The following information highlights programs that are being made available to businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Check back often as new programs will be added as they are announced. 

U.S. Small Business Administration COVID-19 Assistance

Paycheck Protection Program:

Instituted by the CARES Act, and further funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program is designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide funding for overhead costs, such as rent, mortgage interest, utilities, cost associated with safety guidelines, etc.  Borrowers may be eligible for loan forgiveness, if the funding is utilized for its intended purpose.  For information on first draw PPP loans, second draw PPP loans, or PPP loan forgiveness click hereSearch to find an eligible Paycheck Protection Program lender near you. Be sure to contact the NCCC Small Business Development Center via email or at (716) 210-2515 to speak directly with a Specialist.  They can provide FREE assistance to you throughout the process. Click here to register to view a webinar about Second Draw PPP Loans that was conducted by the Albany SBDC.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Economic Disaster Assistance Loans to small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills a small business may have that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

These low interest rate working capital loans are designed to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. The program provides up to $2 million in necessary working capital during the period before normal operations resume. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period. For more information on the SBA Economic Disaster Assistance Loan Program, click here, or call the NCCC Small Business Development Center at (716) 210-2515 to speak directly with a Specialist.  You can also view the application here

Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant Program:

The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020, and it was amended through the American Resuce Plan Act of 2021. The program includes $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.  Learn more about the program and how to apply here.  You can access the application portal here. As with other SBA programs, you are encouraged to contact the NCCC Small Business Development Center via email or at (716) 210-2515 to speak directly with a Specialist.  They can provide FREE assistance to you throughout the process. View a SBDC webinar which provides an overview of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program here.

Debt Relief Program:

The U.S. SBA is also offering a Debt Relief Program, whereby the principal and interest of SBA 7(a) and 504 mortgage loans will be paid by SBA for up to six months.  This is not a deferment and the amount will not be added back onto the loan.  Learn more about the program and how to apply here.


New York State Empire State Development COVID-19 Assistance

Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund: (Note, at this time applications are not being accepted for this program)

In an effort to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund offers approximately $3 million in reimbursement grants for up to $5,000 to eligible businesses. The program is intended to support full-service restaurants – the industry hit hardest by the pandemic – during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited and as restaurants adjust to New York State’s COVID-19 safety restrictions and new mandates.

To qualify for the program, an establishment must:

  • Be a full-service restaurant (NAICS code 722511), or establishment engaged in providing food services and/or meals (prepared on-premises) to patrons - those providing takeout food services due to COVID-19 restrictions are also eligible;
  • Have less than $3 million in 2019 revenue;
  • Be located in New York State;
  • Be in operation on or before March 1, 2019;
  • Certify and demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • Agree to comply with all applicable NY State and local reopening guidance and COVID-19 health and safety policies.

Franchises are not eligible. Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprises are encouraged to apply.

The Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund is a partnership between New York State, Diageo Wine & Spirits, Southern Glazer Wines & Spirits and The National Development Council (NDC). Grant funding will be managed by The National Development Council (NDC).  Learn more about the grant opportunity and access the application here.

New York Forward Loan Fund:

New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) is a new economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting New York State small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords as they reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak and NYS on PAUSE.  NYFLF targets the state’s small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (90% of all businesses), nonprofits and small landlords that have seen a loss of rental income.

NYFLF is providing working capital loans so that small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords have access to credit as they reopen. The loans are not forgivable in part or whole.  The loans will need to be paid back over a 5-year term with interest.  The working capital loans are timed to support businesses and organizations as they proceed to reopen and have upfront expenses to comply with guidelines (e.g., inventory, marketing, refitting for new social distancing guidelines) under the New York Forward Plan.  Click here to learn more and fill out an application.


Additional COVID-19 Business Assistance

USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

B&I CARES Act Program loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for or respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The loans may be used only to support rural businesses, including agricultural producers, that were in operation on Feb. 15, 2020.  Applications must be received no later than midnight Eastern Daylight Time on September 15, 2021, or until funds are expended. Program funding expires Sept. 30, 2021.  Learn more

Essential Worker Child Care Program:

On March 20, 2020, the Niagara County Department of Social Services announced the Community Child Care Clearinghouse of Niagara.  This program is designed to assist families of essential workers that are in need of child care assistance. Call the Clearinghouse Hotline at (716) 285-8572 x109 or x105 for help finding child care in your area.

New York Power Authority Programs

The New York Power Authority is waiving applicable energy and demand rate increases for its economic development power customers that participate in ReCharge New York, Replacment Power Expansion Power and Preservation Power programs for the July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 rate year.  In addition, customers participating in those NYPA power programs are now able to suspend payment to NYPA for up to six months beginning with their April 2020 electric bill.  Customers that opt-in to the new relief program can make payment installments over the following 18-months, free from any interest or penalities.  For more information contact Richard Smith, Director of Economic Development at the New York Power Authority at [email protected].  

ReCharge New York:

ReCharge New York (RNY) is a statewide economic development power program administered by the New York Power Authority (NYPA).  The program provides power allocations to eligible applicants with the goal to create and retain jobs and spur capital investment in the state.  Given the current COVID-19 crisis, this program may present cost reduction opportunities for eligible businesses.  Click to learn more about the program or contact Richard Smith, Director of Economic Development at the New York Power Authority at [email protected].