By: Carol Elizabeth Owens
More than 1,200 grants of up to $20,000 each are available for eligible small businesses in Monroe County through the ‘Fast Forward Monroe 2.0’ (FFM 2.0). The deadline for applying for the money is Fri., Oct. 29, 2021 at 5 p.m.
Interested local small business owners may obtain additional information and apply at www.monroecounty.gov/fastforwardmonroe.
The initial FFM 2.0 grant contract was signed by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on Oct. 26, 2021.
“I want our local small business owners to know help is still available to recover from losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bello. “Fast Forward Monroe 2.0 is here to help entrepreneurs who suffered financial losses through no fault of their own. I encourage all our business owners to apply.”
Bello also expressed gratitude to a few of his Democratic colleagues. “[I] thank Congressman Joe Morelle, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for their help in securing CARES Act funding for this program,” he said.
The program is funded with an additional $20 million in CARES Act money, to be distributed by the end of 2021. Some FFM 2.0 contracts are being executed and those funds are on the way; the remainder of qualifying applicants will get their grants by the end of the year. Businesses that got grants during the first round of the program are still eligible to receive funds through FFM 2.0.
Businesses that did not receive funding in the first version of the program are given priority under Fast Forward 2.0.
The initial Fast Forward program, which was launched in October 2020, helped more than 1,500 local small businesses survive the pandemic with $20.4 million in CARES Act funding.
At that time, Monroe County joined with community organizations including the Urban League of Rochester (ULR), PathStone Enterprise Center (PathStone) and the Ibero-American Action League (IBERO) to make the Fast Forward 2.0 program more accessible. They collaborated to assist minority-owned small businesses in recognition that those were some of the ventures hardest-hit by the pandemic. Organizations such as ULR, PathStone and IBERO give business owners comprehensive help with their applications and assist individuals with limited English proficiency.
Chantz Miles, division director of business development for the ULR said the Business Development Division is excited to partner with Monroe County. “The hurdles that small business owners, specifically minority owned businesses have to jump to sustain their businesses are both intimidating and difficult. The fast forward program will help our business owners sustain, strengthen and grow their businesses,” Miles said. “ULR is committed and dedicated to being a key role player in rebuilding and sustaining our small business community here in Monroe County.”
Local businesses eligible for FFM 2.0 funding can receive grants of either $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 depending on their number of full-time employees. The money can be used for rent, payroll, operating expenditures, or COVID-related business expenses and other funding shortfalls.
“We need to ensure these businesses have the support they need to navigate these challenging times—which is why I’m proud to have helped secure funding through the CARES Act for the Fast Forward Monroe program that is helping so many local entrepreneurs make ends meet,” said Morelle.
“I’m grateful to County Executive Bello for his partnership and steadfast leadership to ensure our community recovers from this crisis stronger than ever.”