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New York SBDC helps Binghamton café pursue federal restaurant funding

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras discusses the work of the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) during a May 4 visit to Lost Dog Café & Lounge in Binghamton, an SBDC client. (PHOTO CREDIT: SUNY FLICKR)

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Like a lot of eateries nationwide, the co-owners of the Lost Dog Café & Lounge in Binghamton are pursuing funding from the newly established Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The fund provides direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced significant operational losses due to the pandemic.

As they’ve done previously, café co-owners Marie McKenna and Elizabeth (Liz) Hughes in early May sought help from the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in completing their application for the RRF, per a SUNY news release.

Last spring, COVID-19 forced co-owners McKenna and Hughes to shut down Lost Dog Café & Lounge for about two months. The pair worked with the New York SBDC to secure more than $316,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds to keep their staff employed.

“We’ve worked with them throughout the years, and when 2020 hit, obviously we were in whole different situation. We also reached out to them then and they guided us through all of the steps. They kept us informed of everything that was available to us and helped us through those steps to get to where we are,” co-owner Elizabeth (Liz) Hughes said in her remarks during a May 4 event highlighting the work of the New York SBDC.

Lost Dog Café & Lounge operates at 222 Water St. in Binghamton. SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras on May 4 visited the business to highlight the work of the New York SBDC, a business-assistance organization administered by SUNY and funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

“We want all of our businesses locally in Binghamton or Buffalo or on Long Island … to make sure that our businesses are coming back, especially that the state is now reopening more of the activities all across the state,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in his remarks.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has billions of dollars to help restaurants, but just because restaurants are open now, “doesn’t mean that things are okay,” Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said in speaking to the gathering. 

“For almost a whole year, they’ve been closed down or operating at a quarter capacity but they still have to pay the bills, they still have to pay the rent. I’m excited for the future but they still need help … being able to get those really needed funds … to restaurants is really going to be critical as we move out of this pandemic and we go into this period of recovery,” said Garnar. 

Garnar also noted that it was “pretty amazing” to see what happened to tax revenues when restaurants shut down and “how important they are” in providing counties and local governments the funds to do the critical things they need to do for the community.

The New York SBDC has helped nearly 3,000 COVID-19-impacted small-business owners secure more than $560 million in aid over the last 14 months, per SUNY’s release. 

The $560 million the SBDC helped businesses secure includes more than $265 million in PPP forgivable loans, nearly $125 million in COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster loans, as well as other local, state, and federal grants, SUNY said. 

How SBDC helps

Through business counseling and training, the New York SBDCs say they have helped COVID-19-affected clients stay afloat, reimagine the services they provide and the customers they serve, reopen, and “even thrive over a tumultuous and unprecedented” period for the business community. 

Its services have helped save more than 28,000 jobs and create more than 2,500 jobs for client businesses, SUNY said.

With 22 campus-based regional centers and dozens of outreach offices situated in local communities, the New York SBDC employs full-time professional business advisors who provide management and technical assistance to startup and existing businesses. 

Established in 1984, the New York SBDC has worked with more than 519,000 businesses, helping them to invest $7.5 billion in the state economy and create more than 240,000 jobs.      

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