Franklin County gets federal grants to local businesses
MALONE — Franklin County’s economic development wing has helped several small businesses to bounce back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the assistance has even allowed some to grow and expand, Franklin County legislators heard Thursday prior to their regular meeting at the courthouse.
Russ Kinyon, director of economic development, addressed the board in a public hearing and detailed the efforts of the Franklin County small business assistance program, which provides support for small businesses across the area. The program is made possible through CARES Act funding, routed through the New York State office of community renewal in the form of a community development block grant, he said.
“We were awarded a total program amount of $565,000, which included $500,000 for direct grants to businesses,” Kinyon said. “We were eligible to give up to $85,000 per business.”
Kinyon was joined in the presentation by Industrial Development Agency CEO Jeremy Evans, and Kinyon said his agency’s efforts have been well-received by the businesses they have helped.
He explained that the grants are intended to prevent, prepare, or respond to COVID-19 and similar pandemics, with the goal of restoring lost equity and building resilience for businesses.
“Businesses had to demonstrate an actual impact from COVID-19,” Kinyon said. “They had to explain how the pandemic affected them, and how it affected them financially. That was reviewed by a grant committee of six different professionals from around the county.
“They also had to show a benefit to a low to moderate income person. That low to moderate income person could either be the owners or it could create at least one job for a low to moderate income person.”
Round one awards went to Happy Camping RV in Vermontville, Romano’s Saranac Lanes in Saranac Lake, Carpe Insectae in Saranac Lake, Village Furniture in Malone and Fountain’s Enchanted Florist in Malone.
Carpe Insectae was awarded $85,000 to add a full-time employee, purchase inventory, and pursue licenses to sell their products on the Canadian market. Happy Camping RV used the $85,000 received to outfit a service vehicle and hire a service technician. Romano’s Saranac Lanes was awarded $85,000 to modernize bowling and scoring software, upgrade technology and hire staff. Village Furniture’s $85,000 award allowed it to rehire staff lost due to the pandemic, as well as upgrade equipment for moving and delivering furniture and inventory. Fountain’s Enchanted Florist received $49,000 for inventory purchases to help the business expand its offerings, as well as for technological upgrades that will help facilitate online and phone orders.
Amado Restaurant in Tupper Lake and Brainardsville Bake House received round two awards. Amado Restaurant received $41,000 to restore lost equity, retain staff and purchase inventory to help the business grow. The $70,000 awarded to Brainardsville Bake House helped the business purchase a new oven, a flour mill and inventory.
“Overall I do know this program did make a big difference for these businesses,” Kinyon told lawmakers. “They were a little bit larger grants this time around but we wanted to make sure that they were really impactful and really made a true difference in a transformational way. We are happy to be able support these businesses.”
He went on to say that business owners have expressed gratitude to the county for the assistance in the wake of the COVID pandemic and in response to its lingering impacts.
“The businesses pass along their appreciation to the legislature for facilitating this,” Kinyon said.
Justus Martin, R-Bombay, asked how Kinyon’s agency makes business owners aware of the assistance available.
“How do we communicate to the businesses what’s available?” he asked Kinyon. “How do we intersect with them to their profit like this?”
Kinyon said he has relationships with businesses across the county, which helps identify needs and challenges individual businesses are facing.
“I check in with them, or they check in with me,” Kinyon explained. “I’m able to share opportunities that are coming up.” He said other efforts to get the word out about the assistance came from advertisements and publicity from local media sources.
County legislators thanked both Kinyon and Evans for their efforts and for the update on the impact those efforts are having for local businesses.