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Small Businesses Eligible for Another Round of COVID Money

Staff reports

Small businesses can get another boost as Monroe County announced expansion of a COVID-related grant assistance program.

Fast Forward Monroe 2.0 will use an additional $20 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act from the federal government.

Eligible businesses can receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the number of full-time employees. The money can be used for rent, payroll, operating expenses or COVID-related business expenses or other shortfalls.

The money must be distributed by the end of this year.

The county is working with the Urban League of Rochester, PathStone Foundation and the Ibero-American Action League to help businesses complete applications. The county’s Department of Planning and Development has added nine temporary workers to speed the approval process.

Fast Forward 2.0 follows the initial Fast Forward program launched in October 2020 with $22 million in CARES Act money. More than 1,500 small businesses received money.

“The hurdles that small business owners, specifically minority owned businesses have to jump to sustain their businesses are both intimidating and difficult,” Chantz Miles, division director of business development for the Urban League of Rochester, said in a news release announcing the second round of grants. “The Fast Forward program will help our business owners sustain, strengthen and grow their businesses.”

Businesses that did not receive help in the first round will be given priority in Fast Forward 2.0. Applications are at www.monroecounty.gov/fastforwardmonroe. The deadline is Oct. 8.

Agustin Rodriguez, senior director of Ibero Investors, said the program will give “breathing room to our existing entrepreneurs … that persevered against all the odds.”