Oneida County 2021 Microenterprise Grant Program Eligibility Survey

Programs Objectives
The objective of the 2021 Oneida County Microenterprise Grant Program (the "Program") is to help startup and existing 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.
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.

Program Eligibility Criteria Eligible Activities
*    Provide assistance to businesses involved in the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, agri-business, high-tech, 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 low- to moderate income (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 machinery and equipment, and working capital;
*    Utilization of funds must be eligible pursuant to the guidelines governing the CDBG program
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 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 3 of 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 grant funds
*    And/or complete 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, excluding retail enterprises. 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 employ five (5) or fewer full-time equivalent employees, including the business owner(s).
*    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.

Employment Standards
*    Meet the project requirements established by the agreements between the County of Oneida and the NYS 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
Financial Assistance Characteristics
*    Financial assistance minimum will be $5,000
*    Financial assistance maximum will be $35,000
*    Funds awarded may be less than the amount requested by the applicant
*    The fund will provide grants in the following manner:
         1. Financing of capital assets (such as machinery and equipment)
         2. Working capital
*    Recipient will provide a minimum of 10% equity in the project.
*    Applicant must demonstrate completion of an approved entrepreneurial assistance or 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 or training program will be required. The application will be processed by EDGE as follows:
1. Potential applicant completes pre-application questionnaire on EDGE website to determine program eligibility.
2. If eligible, applicant may download application from the website, or call EDGE, to receive application, document checklist and program guidelines by mail.
3. Application is reviewed for completeness including development and completion of approved business plan.
4. Application is reviewed for eligibility to grant guidelines 24 CFR 570.482(e) and Appendix A to Part 570 regulations.
5. EDGE staff determines economic feasibility, credit check analysis, and risk assessment
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 SUNY Poly. 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 business.

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.