Westchester County businesses and nonprofits are counted on to help the local economy prosper, attract visitors and boost tourism, provide cultural and artistic programs, raise awareness of issues affecting our communities and provide support to our neighbors. Now, many businesses and nonprofit organizations in Westchester are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and the County is here to help.

The Westchester County Business FIRST grant program will allocate a total of $10 million in grants, in amounts of up to $49,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofits.  Watch the video to learn all about the program.

Who Is Eligible to Apply for the Grant

Any business or nonprofit organization based in Westchester County with 99 or fewer employees that meets the eligibility requirements may apply.

Eligible organizations must be in good standing with Westchester County and are required to demonstrate revenue losses of at least 25 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic (March 7, 2020 to present). The business or nonprofit must have been open as of Feb. 1, 2020, currently be in operation and plan to stay open, or be closed temporarily and plan to reopen for business in 2020.

In order to qualify, the applicant must establish that the organization was a financially viable operation prior to March 7, 2020, the date Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 202 declaring a disaster emergency. If the organization has received funding from the federal government through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), the funds from the Westchester County Business FIRST grant program should not be used to cover the same expenses. All types of organization structures are allowed, except non-locally owned franchises.

Certain entities are not eligible to apply for the Westchester County Business FIRST grant program. These include units of government, real estate holding companies, businesses or nonprofits that generate revenue through passive real estate; adult entertainment establishments; and gas stations.

How Funds May Be Used

Awardees may use Westchester County Business FIRST grant program funds for retaining and/or supporting employees; employee benefits; rent or mortgage payments; addressing temporary COVID-19-related restrictions on business activity; increasing technology capacity to enable alternative work options; marketing; buying safety equipment; and other expenses directly related to impacts of the pandemic.

How the Award Process Works

The Westchester County Business FIRST grant program is being administered by the Westchester County Office of Economic Development through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations that meet the criteria will be evaluated through a competitive process. Applications will be reviewed by a diverse panel in a confidential manner and evaluated through a process that involves a weighted scoring system. The panel will take into consideration how the applicant intends to use the funds, how many jobs will be retained or supported, how long the organization has been in Westchester County and its impact on the local business community, as well as various other criteria.

Applicants will be notified as to whether they have been approved or denied for a grant within one month of the close of the application period. The grants are expected to be allocated to recipients within two weeks of receipt of an approval letter. Applicants who were not selected to receive funding through the grant program will be notified and given information about other available resources.

How to Apply for the Grant

Applications for the Westchester County Business FIRST grant program will be accepted September 21 through September 30, 2020.

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