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CenterState CEO, others to help small businesses apply for state pandemic-recovery grant program

By Eric Reinhardt (


El-Java Abdul-Qadir, director of the South Side Innovation Center, on Thursday addressed a gathering at the Tech Garden in Syracuse. Local leaders had gathered with CenterState CEO to discuss the state’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Businesses Recovery Grant program and how it can help the area’s small businesses. (Photo credit: CenterState CEO)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Local leaders on Thursday joined CenterState CEO to highlight the impact the state’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Businesses Recovery Grant program will have on small businesses in the community.

The $800 million program begins accepting applications June 10 and will provide grants and technical assistance to small businesses and microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees that have had hardship during the pandemic.

The program gives priority to “socially and economically disadvantaged” business owners.

Flexible grants up to $50,000 will be made available to eligible small businesses. Recipients can use the funding for operating expenses, such as payroll, rent, or mortgage payments; taxes; utilities; personal protective equipment; or other business expenses incurred during the pandemic.

Empire State Development Corporation will administer the program. CenterState CEO, the South Side Innovation Center, Onondaga Small Business Development Center, and the Cortland Chamber of Commerce have been designated by Empire State Development (ESD) as technical-assistance providers to help businesses to navigate the application process. More on the program and its eligibility requirements can be found at the ESD website:

“We have heard directly from so many businesses, hit hard by the pandemic, about the multitude of challenges they face, including the need for critical grant funding,” Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, said. “Through this program businesses will have access to needed resources for recovery. We are ready to support businesses to help them to better understand the program and how they can access state and federal grants, so they can position themselves for successful applications and continue to drive our regional economy.”

More than 330,000 small and micro businesses are potentially eligible for this program, including 57 percent of the state’s certified minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBEs). Reimbursable COVID-19 related expenses must have been incurred between March 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, CenterState CEO said.

“Since our inception in 2006, the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), a community outreach program of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, has been committed to providing guidance and support to aspiring and established business owners,” El-Java Abdul-Qadir, director of the South Side Innovation Center, said. “Specifically, we have used our inclusive-entrepreneurship approach to address the needs of individuals from some of the most marginalized communities as they start and expand their businesses. We are excited about New York State’s commitment to small-business recovery. We also realize that this much needed financial support for small businesses may not reach everyone who is eligible. SSIC is looking forward to providing information, technical assistance, and support to small businesses within our region who seek to benefit from this initiative.”


Central New York designated assistance centers include:

CenterState CEO

115 W. Fayette St.

Syracuse, N.Y. 13202

Contact: CenterState CEO Director of Community Investment Andrew Obernesser at


Syracuse University - South Side Innovation Center

2610 South Salina St.

Syracuse, N.Y. 13205


Onondaga Small Business Development Center

Onondaga Community College

4926 Onondaga Road, Mulroy Hall

Syracuse, N.Y. 13215-4585


Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce

83 Main St.

PO Box 427

Cortland, N.Y. 13045


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