New York Forward widens field for small-biz loans

Forward progress: The New York Forward Loan Fund is now accepting applications from small businesses that previously received federal Paycheck Protection Program assistance.

Gut-punched small businesses on Long Island and across New York State just caught a break from the Empire State Development Corp.

Albany’s main economic engine announced Thursday that statewide small businesses that received earlier assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program are now eligible to receive low-interest working-capital loans through the New York Forward Loan Fund.

When the $100 million NYFLF launched in May, it was meant as a lifeline for New York small businesses – 20 employees or fewer – that didn’t receive federal PPP assistance, and businesses that did land PPP assistance were deemed ineligible.

But “discussions with lenders and applicants” made it clear that the PPP loans “did not go far enough to support New York-based small businesses,” according to Empire State Development, which lamented “legislative criteria” restricting how the federal assistance could be spent and PPP loans that amounted to “a fraction of what was needed and requested.”

Eric Gertler: The PPP fell way short.

Hence the new NYFLF rules, which open New York Forward financial assistance – provided by lending institutions including Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, HSBC Bank, BNB Bank and others – to small businesses that received $50,000 or less in federal PPP funds.

The “conditional change,” according to Empire State Development, is designed to give the NYFLF’s lender network “greater flexibility … to provide more small businesses with working capital to cover expenses associated with reopening” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, obviously, has been an “unprecedented challenge” to the state’s business climate, according to ESD Acting Commissioner, President and CEO-delegate Eric Gertler, who calculates that small businesses comprise 98 percent of New York’s overall business roster.

“Providing assistance and opportunity – particularly to our state’s minority- and women-owned businesses – to help them reopen is essential toward revitalizing our economy and building New York back better,” Gertler said in a statement.