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Saratoga County Officials Promote Small Business Grant Program

Saratoga County IDA Chair Rod Sutton
Saratoga County webcast/Image capture by WAMC

Saratoga County officials are encouraging business owners to take advantage of available grant funding to assist small companies during the pandemic.

During Wednesday’s coronavirus update by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, leaders highlighted aid that has been made available to small businesses.

Phil Barrett is the Town Supervisor of Clifton Park.

“Many of them have struggled through to this point. Some haven’t made it. But we needed to everything possible to help as many businesses as possible make it through the most difficult time of COVID, the pandemic, and the reopening,” said Barrett.

Early in the pandemic, the Clifton Park IDA partnered with the town to purchase and distribute masks to small businesses. The Clifton Park IDA has partnered with the Saratoga County IDA to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to businesses to purchase personal protective equipment and other supplies.

Recently, the Saratoga County IDA voted to boost funding available to small businesses.

Rod Sutton is the organization’s chair…

“In our February meeting, the IDA allocated another $250,000 to the program for a total of $750,000. Right, to date, we have issued checks of over $420,000, so we do have a balance of well over $300,000 for future allocation,” said Sutton.

The funding is open to companies that are headquartered in Saratoga County with less than 50 employees.

Scott Schreifels, owner of Ravenswood Pub in Clifton Park, like many other restaurants, invested in a tent to allow for socially-distanced outdoor dining. With the cold weather approaching last fall, Schreifels said he was able to take advantage of the program.

“Going into the fall, we didn’t know what we were going to do. When these grants became available they allowed us to retrofit the inside of our restaurant with plexiglass and Lexan. It also allowed me to keep the tent up further into the season to keep my employees working. So, without these grants I don’t think we could have went as long as we could have went. And it also allowed us to purchase one of our tents so we could get started earlier in the spring,” said Schreifels.

Jessica Fuller, owner of the Hot Yoga Spot, which has several Capital Region locations including one in Clifton Park, said she dug into her pockets to purchase thousands of dollars of equipment in anticipation of a reopening under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Phased” reopening strategy.

“HEPA purifiers, PPE, new signage, stuff like that to be ready to open when Phase 4 came. And then, as everyone knows, Phase 4 came and fitness found out a few days before we were not included, we were not given a date when we were going to be able to reopen, so the thousands of dollars I had spent on this equipment to be able to reopen… it kind of just of sat in an empty studio for months,” said Fuller.

Fuller said eventually she was able to use the IDA funding to recoup some of the equipment costs needed to reopen.

But she cautioned that even with support —  from the local up to the federal level — it’s still not an easy time for small business owners.

“I want to make people know, like, small business is not out of the woods. I hear it all the time, like, ‘You must be thrilled. Things must be really easy now.’ I can assure you, they’re not.”

Officials also provided an update on vaccination numbers Wednesday. To date, more than 36,000 – or more than 15 percent – of county residents have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. More than 19,000 – over 8 percent – of county residents have received two doses of vaccine.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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