Westchester County Business FIRST Grant Program To Provide $10M for Local Businesses, Nonprofits

Westchester County Business FIRST Grant Program To Provide $10M for Local Businesses, Nonprofits
From left, Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County’s Director of Economic Development; Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Dr. Marsha Gordon, Business Council of Westchester President/CEO.

WHITE PLAINS—Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced on Sept. 16 a $10-million funding initiative to support small businesses and nonprofits facing challenges due to COVID-19.

The Westchester County Business FIRST: Financial Investments for Recovery and a Sustainable Tomorrow grant program is designed to offer immediate financial relief to organizations in Westchester County that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

“We are at a critical point in Westchester County’s history—and such times call for leadership and innovation,” said Latimer. “The Westchester County Business FIRST Program will provide urgent financial assistance to businesses and nonprofits now, and set the foundation to rebuild our economy as we work toward a sustainable future.”

The Westchester County Business FIRST Program is being administered by the County Office of Economic Development through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program is open to businesses and nonprofits that employ 99 or fewer people and whose primary business location is in Westchester County. Eligible business and nonprofits can apply for grants of up to $49,000.

Applications will be accepted from September 21 through September 30, 2020 at https://westchestercatalyst.com/business-FIRST-programs/

“These are difficult times, but as ‘The Catalyst’ for economic growth and vitality, the Office of Economic Development is here to support county businesses and nonprofits,” said Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County’s Director of Economic Development. “These organizations help fuel our economy and provide quality jobs in our communities. This funding is designed to help them recover and get back to business.”

To be eligible, organizations must be in good standing with Westchester County and are required to demonstrate revenue losses of at least 25% from March 7, 2020 to present due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The applicant must establish that the organization was a financially viable operation prior to March 7, 2020, the date Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 202 that declared a disaster emergency. The organization must have been open as of Feb. 1, 2020, currently be in operation, or closed temporarily and plan to reopen for business in 2020.

Business Council of Westchester President/CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon said,“The Business Council of Westchester (BCW) is extremely supportive of this program and applauds the leadership of County Executive George Latimer and Director of Economic Development, Bridget Gibbons in developing this initiative for small business and not-for-profits in Westchester. These sectors have been especially hard hit and desperately need these financial resources to survive. The county is also analyzing which sectors have been hardest hit, so that these resources can be deployed most effectively.”

She continued, “It will be important to make sure that all businesses are aware of this opportunity , so outreach via business organizations, community-based organizations and churches will also be important, as well as outreach in different languages to ensure that as many as possible are aware. The BCW will certainly work to share with our outreach to our over 1000 members and robust database of County businesses and not for profits as well as through social media. This is a ray of hope for those organizations struggling to stay alive.”

Westchester County Association President & CEO Michael N. Romita said, “So many of Westchester’s businesses and non-profits suffered significant economic hardship as a result of the pandemic crisis. As our local economy begins to transition from reopening to recovery, programs like Westchester County’s Business FIRST initiative will go a long way towards helping businesses regain their economic footing. We applaud the County Executive and his economic development team for its innovative use of CARES Act funds and look forward to helping spread the word to eligible organizations.”

Nonprofit Westchester Executive Director Jan Fisher added, “Nonprofit Westchester is grateful for our partnership with Westchester County government during these unprecedented times. We thank the County Executive and his team for this grant opportunity, and for ensuring that there are county resources available to support nonprofit organizations as they continue to provide essential services to Westchester’s most vulnerable residents.”

Certain entities are not eligible to apply for Westchester County Business FIRST grant, including units of government; real estate holding companies, businesses or nonprofits that generate revenue through passive real estate; adult entertainment establishments; gas stations; and businesses or nonprofits that have defaulted on federal debt, including loans from the Small Business Administration.

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