State launches loan program for small businesses

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

ALBANY COUNTY — On Friday, as the governor announced a state loan program for small businesses hurt by the shutdown meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy told residents that compliance of protocols for opening businesses would depend on complaints.

At his press briefing, Andrew Cuomo announced New York State is starting its own loan program for small businesses that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance. With $100 million available, the New York Forward Loan Fund will focus on woman-owned and minority-owned businesses, he said.

“The federal definition of small business is what many could consider large business, but we’re going to focus on true small businesses. Twenty or fewer employees, less than $3 million in gross revenues,” said Cuomo.

Businesses interested in receiving a loan should visit esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans.

“They are 90 percent of New York’s businesses and they’re facing the toughest challenges,” said Cuomo. “The economic projections, vis-a-vis small business are actually frightening. More than 100,000 have shut permanently since the pandemic hit.”

The Capital Region met the seven required metrics to begin reopening on Wednesday with the first of four phases. McCoy said on Friday that many questions have been raised about who will enforce the safety protocols as businesses open.

“It’s gonna be up to the people,” he said, indicating that means business owners and workers as well as customers.

“If you feel unsafe,” McCoy said, there are forms on the state’s website that can be filled out.

One form is titled “New York State COVID-19 on Pause Enforcement Task Force Violation Complaint Form.” People can also call a hotline — at 1-833-789-0470 — to lodge a complaint.

McCoy urged employees to work through their unions with employers that aren’t in compliance. Of lodging a complaint, he said, “Go to this as a last resort.”

McCoy said violations could be written up.  Local law enforcement is being tasked with investigating complaints, issuing warnings, and ensuring compliance. Any businesses repeatedly violating health codes or new state guidelines could face civil penalties. “It could end up with your business being shut down and we don’t want to do that,” McCoy said.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said earlier that his department had made no arrests for businesses or individuals violating executive orders but, rather, issued cease-and-desist orders or handed out masks.

Guilderland’s supervisor, Peer Barber, wrote on Friday in his daily letter to town residents, “After several days of the Phase 1 reopening, there have been no problems in town with businesses complying with physical separation, face masks, and other requirements imposed by the state. Only a handful of reminders have taken place. 

“The same is true for private gatherings in homes and in backyards. Please remember that gatherings of more than 10 persons are not allowed, and we should all be keeping six-foot separations and donning masks when that separation is not possible.”

 

More Regional News

  • The county’s executive informed businesses how to proceed in filing state-required forms to reopen and the county’s health commissioner said testing for COVID-19 as well as continuing to follow mitigation strategies will be crucial in remaining open.

  • As Albany County ends the 11th week since the first two cases of COVID-19 were announced on March 12, the county executive says, “We are starting to go in the right direction ….” Both statewide and in Albany County, the curve has flattened and the Capital Region has completed the first week of the reopening of Phase 1 businesses.

  • “It’s a complex plan that combines creating a healthy environment for businesses with communications and best practices,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy on Saturday as he released the Capital Region’s reopening plan.

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