Queens borough president announces launch of small business COVID-19 relief program

Small businesses across the borough impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis may be eligible for new grants funded by Mets owner Steve Cohen. (Photo via Flickr)

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is stepping to the plate to assist Queens small businesses that have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced the launch of a new initiative with the city’s Economic Development Corporation and community partners that will provide $15 million worth of grants to small businesses in need up to $20,000 to support operational expenses.

“No borough has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous economic fallout than Queens, where countless small businesses, and the thousands of families these entities support through local hiring, are facing unprecedented uncertainty through no fault of their own,” Richards said. “No expense must be spared to prevent even a single closure. With so many struggling to keep their doors open, Queens is deeply grateful to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the Steve and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and all our partners for stepping up to support our small businesses in their hour of greatest need.”

When he acquired the Mets last October, Cohen pledged $17.5 million to aid small businesses that were in desperate need of financial aid. The Queens Small Business Grant Program will provide financial resources to businesses and street vendors that are minority-owned, located in one of the COVID-19 hardest-hit zones or low- and moderate-income communities.

Additionally, the city will dedicate 30 percent of the grants to support restaurants, street vendors and 42.5 million for further small business support later in 2021.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our city and COVID has had a devastating impact on them,” Cohen said. “As the owners of the Mets, we are proud to support small business owners during this difficult time, just as they supported the team and the community over the years. We hope this donation brings them some relief.”

Pursuit is administering the grant program which is open to restaurants, retail or personal services businesses located in Queens that have employed 20 or fewer full-time employees in 2019. Eligible applicants must have earned a gross revenue of $1 million or less in 2019, filed 2019 personal and business tax returns and have no open tax liens or unresolved judgments.

“In Queens, our small businesses and restaurants have always been the heart and soul of our diverse communities, and their success will be a critical part of a robust economic recovery for our city,” said Councilman Paul Vallone, chairman of the Committee on Economic Development. “I welcome news of the Queens Small Business Grant Fund, which will serve as a buoy to so many of the borough’s small businesses and provide them with the support they need to serve their communities, retain employees and stay afloat in the pivotal months ahead.”

Businesses may qualify for the grant, and learn more about the program, with participating community partners including Accompany Capital, Ascendus, BOC Capital, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Pursuit, Renaissance EDC and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“Sadly, too many small businesses in Queens have closed their doors to customers for good due to the pandemic, and those that have survived face an uncertain future without immediate help,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “These cherished institutions add character to our neighborhoods and create jobs and opportunity for Queens residents. We must do everything in our power to help them make ends meet. We deeply thank the NY Mets and the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation Inc. for their support of Queens’ small business community. This is a grand slam that will resonate across the entire borough.”

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