City seeks early applicants for microenterprise grants

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The City of Cortland is attempting to secure additional grant funding to support its Microenterprise Assistance Program, eligible for application by any local small business with five or less employees including the owner(s).

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While the state hasn’t officially announced a date yet regarding new application submissions, Mayor Brian Tobin said city leaders want to be ready for that time to come.

“Our small businesses are all hurting and we want to do whatever we can to help them and to encourage the establishment of new microenterprises in the City,” Tobin said. “We were able to assist six businesses with the most recent funds provided.”

Specifically, the money is allocated through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and distributed in New York by the State Office of Community Renewal.

Qualifying microenterprises can apply for up to $35k, which can be used on a variety of purchases including equipment, furniture and fixtures, and computer hardware and software.

Funding can also be used for working capital and requires no repayment due back to the city as long as the business remains in its borders for five years, according to Thoma Development Consultants.

The firm has written and administered each of the city’s microenterprise grants during the previous rounds it was awarded CDBG funds.

Mayor Tobin says the grants are very competitive and that it’s imperative the city document interest early to increase the chances it will be successful.

“We hope to generate a considerable number of pre-applications in order to increase our chances of funding,” Tobin said. “While we understand that small businesses are overwhelmed right now with COVID=19 and trying to get their doors open again, we all hope that next year at this time, we will see some sort of normalcy and the desire for funding will be keen. To ensure funding is available next year, we need to get started now.”

There is no cost or commitment to complete the pre-application, but rather it provides a basis of support for the grant application to document interest to the state, according to Tobin.

Anyone interested in receiving the preliminary guidelines and a pre-application can contact Thoma Development Consultants at 607-753-1433 or by emailing

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