Oneida County Microenterprise Grant Pre-Qualification Questionnaire
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2014 PROGRAM DESIGN PLAN

 

Programs Objectives & History

The objective of the 2014 Oneida County Micro-enterprise Grant Program (the "Program") is to help small existing companies or start up companies provide new jobs opportunities, keep existing jobs and, ultimately, broaden the tax base of Oneida County, New York.  This Program will also incorporate a technical assistance and training component with grant dollars from the NYS Department of Housing and Community Renewal as well as National Grid to make the applicants' projects a reality.  The 2014 Oneida County Microenterprise Grant Program is designed to support micro-enterprises (at the time of application) with five or fewer employees, counting the owner(s).

 

Technical assistance gained through the program will enhance the applicant's chances for success in their project as well as open up financing opportunities not normally available through traditional lending channels.  Based on an average assistance amount of $20,000 per micro-enterprise and the creation of a minimum of one (1) permanent FTE job for persons from low and moderate income (LMI) families, it is estimated that at least eight (8) LMI jobs will be created as a result of this Program.

 

This Program will be patterned after the 2009 Oneida County Micro-enterprise Grant Program administered by Oneida County and Mohawk Valley EDGE.  That program, which was successfully closed out in December of 2011, resulted in six micro-enterprises creating a total of 15.5 FTE with 12.5 of those positions being filled by LMI individuals as of the closeout date.  Further, six businesses are still in operation as of February 2014.

 

Program Eligibility Criteria

Eligible Activities

  • Provide assistance to businesses involved in the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, agri-business, high technology, research and development and traditional and innovative small business sectors;
  • Must be located within Oneida County, but outside of the CDBG entitlement cities of Utica and Rome.
  • Support the Program objectives;
  • Result in either the creation or retention of jobs which are available to LMI persons as defined by Office of Community Renewal guidelines.  If there will be no hiring of new or retention of existing employees, the owner must meet low or moderate income guidelines at the time of application to the Program;
  • Applicant must present a reasonable likelihood for long-term viability based upon issues such as feasibility, marketability, management, competition, and capitalization;
  • Purchase of capital assets such as real estate, buildings, machinery and equipment and working capital;
  • Utilization of funds must be eligible pursuant to the guidelines governing the CDBG program and as amended. The use of the funds must meet the requirements set forth in 24 CFR 570.482(e) and Appendix A to Part 570;
 

Ineligible Activities

  • Speculation or real estate assistance for primarily ownership, sale, or investment purposes
  • Currently (at time of application) or subsequently (within the period of the grant agreement) deemed illegal
  • Do not meet or further the Program objectives
  • Businesses or applicants that are considered retail in nature or will generate a significant percentage of their revenue from the sale of products or services for personal use are not eligible for this program 
  • Deemed ineligible for assistance under the Small Business Act, as amended and further described in Chapter 1 of Title 13, Code of Federal Regulations, and in Chapter 1, Section 3of the "Standard Operating Procedures" of the Small Business Administration.
 

Business Skills Training / Counseling Requirement  

 

If the applicant firm has been in operation for less than 24 months, the owner/principal is required to:

  • Complete the SUNY Small Business Development Center (SBDC) training course, Small Business In Depth. The cost is $95.00 per attendee and will be an eligible expense of microenterprise grant funds
and/or
  • Other prior approved business training or counseling 

If the applicant firm has been in operation for 24 months or more, the owner/principal has the following option in addition to the options listed above:

  • Completion of alternative counseling or other business assistance services from SBDC which are approved in writing by SBDC to be acceptable for application to the Oneida County Microenterprise Grant Program
 

Eligible Applicants

  • Must be or shall become a commercial enterprise with five or less employees, including in the five the owner of the business.  In a mixed use project (including retail), funding can only apply to that portion which is non-retail or eligible. In the case where no jobs are to be created, the employer (owner) and/or current employee base must be low or moderate income persons as established by CDBG criteria at the time of closing.
  • Must be a bona-fide registered United States Corporation or partnership or sole proprietorship, be able to repay if found in default of program objectives, and possess good character and reputation and be of legal age.  An investigation of character shall be made from the best available source including, but not limited to, past and present creditors, employers, and other sources having knowledge of the applicant.
  • Past finalists (non-winners) of the Mohawk Valley EDGE Emerging Business competition and EDGEccelerator Business Competition are eligible. Such finalists have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of their business and markets by having submitted to these competitions and having been deemed a finalist by a panel of judges with business expertise.  The requirement for further business skills training / counseling in order to apply for the Program is waived for these applicants, but may be undertaken at the applicant's discretion.
 

Employment Standards

  • Meet the project requirements established by the agreements between the County of Oneida and the Office of Community Renewal to create or retain jobs for low or moderate income persons;
  • 51% those jobs created and/or retained are to be held, or made available, to low or moderate income persons as set forth in the federal national objective; 
  • Thirty five (35) work hours or more per week will be considered as one (1) full time job equivalent (FTE).  Part time positions may be combined to create FTE positions; for example, two (2) part time jobs that total 35 hours a week or more will be viewed as one FTE.  However, BOTH part time workers must be LMI for the combined FTE to be considered as LMI.
  • At least ONE (1) FTE LMI job must be created; if the owner/operator of the microenterprise is LMI, that position will be counted at one FTE for purposes of the Program.
  • Seasonal jobs will be considered to be permanent jobs if the duration of working period is long enough to classify the job as the employee's principal occupation.
 

Grant Assistance

  • Grant minimum will be $5,000
  • Grant maximum will be $35,000 
  • The fund will provide grants in the following manner: 
  1.     Financing of capital assets (such as real estate, buildings, machinery and equipment)
  2.      Working capital
  3.      Grant recipient will provide a minimum of 10% equity in the project.
  • Applicant must demonstrate completion of an approved entrepreneurial assistance or small business training program.
  • Business plan assistance offered by the SBDC is provided to all clients at no charge.
 


Program & Grant Administration

Application Processing

 

For the project request to be processed all information must be included, complete and additional information may be requested.  The participation in a technical assistance, training and mentoring effort will be required.  The application will be processed by the EDGE as follows:

  1.       Potential applicant calls EDGE and/or visits website www.mvedge.org to determine if eligible for the program.
  2.       If eligible, applicant may download application from the website, or call EDGE, to receive application, document checklist and program guidelines by mail.
  3.       Reviewed for completeness including development and completion of approved business plan. 
  4.       Reviewed for eligibility to grant guidelines 24 CFR 570.482(e) and Appendix A to Part 570 regulations.
  5.      Determine economic feasibility, credit check analysis, and risk assessment.
  6.       If necessary, additional information will be requested from the applicant.
  7.      Provide recommendation to EDGE Grant Committee detailing request, review and recommendation.
 


 

Application Review, Approval and Timing

 

Each grant must receive the approval of the Grant Committee of Mohawk Valley EDGE.  It is also a goal to act upon completed applications as soon as possible in a timely manner. Applications will be taken on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted. 

 

EDGE has the ability to disapprove a grant based upon incompleteness or ineligibility to program criteria as set forth in this guideline and Office of Community Renewal guidelines. The Grant Committee can disapprove a grant if it is determined that funding through the Grant Program is not appropriate based upon these program guidelines and Office of Community Renewal CDBG Program criteria. The applicant will be notified of the Committee's decision in a timely manner both verbally and in writing. 

 

An approval notification will include information regarding the required training through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SUNYIT.  Agreements with the applicant will not be executed and no funds will be distributed until the training requirement has been completed.  A copy of the certificate issued by the SBDC will be given to EDGE to be included in the application file for the microenterprise.

 

Review Guidelines

In reviewing application for grants, the Grant Committee will consider the following factors in addition to other terms set forth in this document:

  1.      Appropriateness of Assistance - Feasibility of the proposed project must be contingent upon receipt of funds under this program. 
  2.      Job Creation - Each applicant must demonstrate the total number of permanent new jobs created or existing jobs retained by the proposed project.  Particular emphasis and priority will be given to those projects which create the highest number of permanent job opportunities for low or moderate income Oneida County residents.
  3.      Location of Business - The principle of the program is based on the fact that a job in one section of Oneida County benefits the entire County.  Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a "first-come, first served" basis with no geographical distinction as long as they meet the program criteria.  If program financing is to be used to locate or expand an existing business from one section of the County to another, it must be clearly demonstrated that the project is not feasible in the municipality wherein the business exists at the time of application.  The elected head of the municipality shall be informed of the application prior to review by the Grant Committee and entitled to submit written comments concerning the proposed project.
  4.      Relocation Penalty - Any borrower who chooses to move its company from Oneida County prior to the end of the borrowing period will be subject to complete repayment of the grant at the time of the decision to relocate.
 

Grant Documentation

  • A commitment letter will be provided detailing the approved grant, terms, requirements, conditions, and next steps to be taken to close a grant.
  • Grant closing will be carried out by EDGE's Attorney once all conditions are met and documents are provided by the grantee.  Closing documents will include grant agreement and all other appropriate documents.
  • Grant disbursement will comply with terms meeting grant closing & related documents, evidence that all equity is committed. 

Program funds are to be administered by Mohawk Valley EDGE, through the EDGE Grant Committee.    The Grant Committee will be comprised of at least three, but may be increased to five members. 

 

EDGE staff shall conduct an annual financial review of all grantees.  Grantees shall be asked to provide quarterly reports documenting job growth and retention of low and moderate income persons.  The annual financial review will ensure that all conditions, covenants and terms of the grant are complied with. The annual review will also include an assessment of need for modified or on-going technical assistance and training.

 

In the case where default (defined as failure to comply with program guidelines) occurs the grantee will be notified in 30 days.  A determination will be made if further information is required and if further technical assistance and support is required. 

 

Grants will be subject to recapture, should defaults remain unresolved. 

 

Conflict of Interest

 

Recognizing that the size of the community is such that many personal and business relationships between prospective grantees and Grant Committee members may exist, a Grant Committee member will disqualify himself or herself from participating in the action on a grant application where the Grant Committee member has a close personal or familial relationship with the applicant or principals of the applicant; or where the Grant Committee member has professional-client relationship with the applicant or principals of the applicant; or where the Grant Committee member is, or represents a significant creditor of the applicant or principals of the applicant, or in any other perceived conflict.

 
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