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COVID small business relief

June 7 deadline for North Elba COVID-19 Business Emergency Grant Fund

These signs at Big Mountain Deli & Creperie on Main Street, Lake Placid, were seen March 18, 2020 during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Small businesses in the town of North Elba have until Monday, June 7 to submit applications to the Essex County Industrial Development Agency for COVID-19 emergency grants.

The town of North Elba COVID-19 Business Emergency Grant Fund was recently awarded $225,000 through the North Elba Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund (LEAF). In April, the LEAF program announced its first round of grants: more than $560,000 to 17 organizations. LEAF is funded by 2% of the county’s 5% occupancy tax.

Grants of between $5,000 and $15,000 are available to small businesses — no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees — that experienced an economic injury and have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses must be physically located in the town of North Elba, which includes parts of the villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and the annual gross business revenue must be less than $1 million.

Closing of a business temporarily during the pandemic does not affect eligibility; however, the business must be open and operational by the end of 2021. Existing businesses that were purchased and business start-ups that were opened and operational by April 30, 2020 are eligible.

Ineligible applicants include landlords and short-term rental properties.

Funds from the COVID-19 Business Emergency Grant Program can be used for the following:

¯ working capital for rent, mortgage payments, utilities, payroll and inventory

¯ furniture, fixtures and equipment

¯ personal protective equipment and supplies related to the prolonged pandemic and safety protocols

All projects funded by the grant are expected to be completed by Oct. 29.

Grant money can’t be used for paying off existing debt, refinancing of loans or acquiring a position in a business.

The Lake Placid Business Association helped design the grant program; it was based on a survey the group sent to members in January. LPBA President Lori Fitzgerald said the grants will provide an economic boost to smaller businesses that don’t have the same access to capital as larger businesses.

“These grants can free up cash for other expenses, such as loans that they may have had to take out during the shutdown, etc.,” Fitzgerald said. “It will help sustain and lift up some small businesses that might otherwise have to close because they can’t make ends meet.”

Help with applications is available through the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Clinton Community College.

“They can alleviate a significant amount of the stress and burden,” said Essex County IDA Co-Executive Director/CEO Carol Calabrese. “They can help them with hopefully rising to the level and quality of their application because they are competing against a pool of applications.”

Call the SBDC at 518-324-7232 for an appointment, and mention that the application is for the town of North Elba COVID-19 Business Emergency Grant Fund.

On the morning of June 7, SBDC officials will be at the Essex County IDA office at 7566 Court St., Elizabethtown, to help applicants make sure their applications are complete.

Applications are available online at www.essexcountyida.com. Contact the Essex County IDA at 518-873-9114 for more information.

Completed applications are due by noon Monday, June 7 at the Essex County IDA office.

Creating the North Elba COVID-19 Business Emergency Grant Fund

Calabrese said about a dozen businesses in the town of North Elba took the survey sent out by the LPBA.

“We kind of tailored the application guidelines around those responses,” Calabrese said.

The need for a local micro-business grant program arose because some small businesses didn’t have access to federal programs such as PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) or EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans), or they got very little from them, according to Calabrese “So they were small businesses with like 25 or less employees, less than a million dollars gross revenue,” Calabrese said. “They were looking for working capital, like things to pay rent, utilities, mortgages, inventory, some small pieces of equipment, anything associated with assisting getting them to a safe level with the COVID-19 safety protocols.”

“Our local economy needs these small businesses to remain viable and to continue to be a unique destination for visitors,” Fitzgerald said.

During the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses in Lake Placid did very well, as visitors arrived in record numbers in search of outdoor recreation — even without the Canadian market.

“Others did not do as well,” Fitzgerald said. “But I think people are tired, there really has been no break for more than a year now. It was stressful and exhausting trying to adapt, and now we are coming into the busy season and there is no help, meaning owners and managers will continue to have to do more in order to keep up. We may see this translate into shorter hours, fewer days open or perhaps even less personalized service.”