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County to provide bail-out for struggling small businesses

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello

Monroe County will use $15 million in federal relief funding to provide grants to small businesses that have taken a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, County Executive Adam Bello announced Wednesday.

The grants will target personal services businesses, including retail and dining. Businesses that haven’t received pandemic-related aid as well as minority and women owned businesses will be prioritized.

Businesses will be eligible for grants of up to $10,000 if they have no more than two full-time employees, grants of up to $15,000 if they have between 3 and 25 full-time employees, and up to $20,000 if they have 26 to 50 full-time employees. The grants will target businesses with the greatest need, according to a news release from the county.

“It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, but it has especially affected the economic vitality of our small businesses, many of which serve as the backbone of our local economy,” Bello said in a news released. “Recent studies show that minority-owned small businesses have suffered an even more dramatic hit and have been left struggling to find funding to help weather the storm.”

The news release cites a study released in August by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which found nearly two in three minority small business owners were worried about having to permanently close their businesses due to the pandemic.

The Monroe County Department of Planning and Development, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Rochester Enterprise conducted a survey of local businesses in August and September. The results showed that businesses needed personal protective equipment and other supplies, but also that many small businesses were seeking financial assistance to help cover expenses and shortfalls related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a recent survey from the New York State Restaurant Association, 63 percent of restaurant owners declared they would not be profitable and would close by the end of this year,” Kelly Bush, president of the New York State Restaurant Association’s Rochester chapter and co-owner of Marshall Street Bar and Grill and The Union Tavern, said in a news release. “ Restaurants are in a unique position, with 50 percent capacity and other restrictions, we face a grim future. These grants are crucial to our survival.”

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at