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Entrepreneurs can apply for Launch Lewis County grant program through mid-May

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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Naturally Lewis says it is accepting applications for its Launch Lewis County grant program for business startups in Lewis County. Pictured here is Ed Johnson, owner of the Tack Shack of Glenfield, mobile equine supplier servicing the Otter Creek Horse Trails. Johnson was a recipient of Launch Lewis County funding in 2023. (PHOTO CREDIT: NATURALLY LEWIS)

LOWVILLE, N.Y. — Those interested have until May 15 to submit applications to Naturally Lewis for the Launch Lewis County grant program.

Naturally Lewis is the economic-development agency in Lewis County.

In partnership with Lewis County, Naturally Lewis has $300,000 and is seeking entrepreneurs who are looking to start their businesses that will “enhance the quality of life for residents and make Lewis County a more attractive place to live, work, and play,” per the March 18 announcement. 

The 6-month program will provide entrepreneurs with the training, funding, and the tools needed to open their business.

Naturally Lewis says it’s seeking creative projects that have a focus in categories that include food & beverage, tourism, small-scale manufacturing, and construction trades.

Once the program is complete, entrepreneurs will submit business-plan proposals for a chance to receive a grant of $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000, depending on total project costs, Naturally Lewis said. 

The program will also provide grant recipients with ongoing business support through Naturally Lewis, along with a professional photoshoot, grand opening promotion, and access to low-interest loan fund, for which the business owner must qualify.

Those interested can visit https://naturallylewis.com/growing-opportunities/launchlc.

Applicant eligibility

Those applying must be a for-profit microenterprise business with five or fewer employees.

To qualify for a grant, applicants/owners must be considered low to moderate income, or they must create a job that will be available to low to moderate income individuals. To make income determination, Naturally Lewis says an applicant must be prepared to submit both 2022 and 2023 income-tax returns to demonstrate eligibility; and, if creating a new job for grant eligibility, the awardee must create a full-time job first in order to receive the grant.

In addition, Naturally Lewis says applicants must contribute personal funds to cover at least 10 percent of the total project cost. Grant funds can only cover up to 90 percent of the project cost.

Applicants must be startup businesses, meaning they’re either new or in operation for less than six months.

A program-advisory committee will review and select finalists to move onto the next round of the competition. Finalists are required to complete an entrepreneurial-training course in partnership with the Onondaga Small Business Development Center before submitting a final application for consideration for the grant funds, Naturally Lewis said. 

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