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Grants To Help Small Businesses

From left, Daniel Heitzenrater, and Courtney Curatolo, Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College director, discussing a grant program that assist small businesses with marketing during the Jamestown City Council work session meeting Monday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A new grant opportunity to assist small businesses with marketing is attracting a lot of attention.

On Monday, Daniel Heitzenrater, and Courtney Curatolo, Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College director, discussed the program during the Jamestown City Council work session meeting. The initiative announced in February is a collaboration of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College and Insyte Consulting. The program offers grant funding to small businesses of 50 employees or less to help them with their marketing efforts. Assistance is available to help businesses evolve, primarily as a result of the pandemic, to develop new ideas and methods for attracting customers and retaining employees.

Businesses will have the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 in reimbursable marketing funds to implement upgrades to their website, social media, branding and other marketing-related initiatives. In addition, qualified manufacturers of less than 500 employees can opt to work with Insyte Consulting to improve their company culture by implementing Environmental, Social and Governance programs and initiatives, thereby positioning them to attract and retain more employees. Insyte Consulting will assess select manufacturers, resulting in recommendations that address some of the easier to achieve ESG aspects.

According to Curatolo, the program was so popular that it crashed the Small Business Development Center’s website. She said 100 applications were accepted, with 21 being from city businesses or nonprofit organizations. She added the top marketing requests were for website design and new signage.

Heitzenrater, chamber president and CEO, said the program is a “double boost” because it will help the businesses receiving the grant and will also assist other local businesses that can provide the services. He said $149,926 has been requested by the 21 city business applicants. Some of the businesses and nonprofits that have applied for funding include the Biodome Project, Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, Jamestown Mattress, Crown Street Roasting Company and Chautauqua Striders.

Unfortunately, Curatolo said of the 100 applications accepted, with more on a waiting list, there is only enough funding to support 30 to 35 applicants, so they’re looking for additional funds.

Crystal Surdyk, city development director, said the city was planning to create a similar program to use city funds toward. She said, however, instead of the city creating its own program, it might be able to assist the one already created.

In other business, the council also discussed the $1.2 million the city received in American Rescue Plan Act funding for a Home Investment Partnership Program. Surdyk said this program is different than the $28 million the city received in federal stimulus money. She said because Jamestown is considered a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development entitlement community, they received the funding that will go toward a rental rehabilitation program. She added approved applicants will receive at most $15,000 per unit and have to provide a 10% match. Surdyk said there will also be a maintenance agreement applicants will have to agree to and a five-year clause that will discourage and penalize people if they sell their property after receiving the renovations.

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