Male assistant smiling behind the counter in clothing store

Helping New Yorkers —and New York State businesses—Build Back

June 21, 2021

In the past year, New York State has developed a number of programs to help small businesses weather the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—and that help continues with an $800 million Small Business Recovery Grant Program, announced on May 25, for small and micro businesses, and small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations. The program is part of $3.5 billion in assistance for renters and small businesses experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

“The economic devastation caused by COVID-19 was far reaching, but especially harmful to small and micro businesses, which are the backbone of the state's economy,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “The Small Business Recovery Grant Program will provide much-needed relief to small businesses, arts organizations and cultural institutions that suffered economic hardship during the pandemic and is the latest step in our continued efforts to rebuild New York's economy stronger, smarter and better than ever before.”

Here are program highlights, with links to more detailed information:

  • Recovery information hub: Information about pandemic-related business assistance and resources, including program applications and details, is featured on ESD’s website at: The page, translatable in 12 languages (in addition to English), features a fillable form that allows businesses to answer a set of questions to determine which Pandemic Business Recovery Initiative programs, including state and federal programs, they might be eligible for.
  • Program applications: Applications for the Small Business Recovery Grant Program were accepted starting June 10. More than 330,000 small and micro businesses are potentially eligible for the program, including 57% of New York State’s certified MWBEs.  Flexible grants for eligible small businesses of up to $50,000 can be used for operating and other business expenses incurred during the pandemic.
  • Help in navigating applications: A statewide network of service providers is available to work directly with micro and small businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations to help navigate and secure COVID-related financial assistance and grants available through state and federal programs. The ESD board approved $10 million in technical assistance grants to support network services, including one-on-one counseling, that will also be offered in multiple languages to eliminate barriers to information access.
  • Rental assistance: New Yorkers behind on their rent, due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic, can also apply to the $2.7 billion New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which began accepting applications on June 1. The program, administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 eligible households.