New York state agency Empire State Development wants to help small businesses grow and do it without a lot of bureaucracy and red tape, according to Rafael Salaberrios, ESD’s senior vice president for small business.
“I’ve learned small businesses throughout the state all want access to capital. They want it as cost effectively as possible and they want it as quickly as possible,” Salaberrios told the Business Journal.
He’ll be in Yonkers on Sept. 18 for an Access to Capital program, which is designed to introduce businesses to Empire State Development programs with a particular emphasis on the Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund. The program is scheduled to take place at the Yonkers Public Library’s Riverfront Branch at 1 Larkin Center beginning at 6 p.m. It is free and no advance reservation is required.
“Empire State provided over $188 million in loans to small businesses in 2018 and over 80% of the loans went to minority and women-owned businesses,” Salaberrios said. “Over the last six years, ESD has facilitated more than $1.6 billion in loans. We’ve worked with myriad companies and created and retained more than 110,000 jobs. We’ve helped launch more than 4,400 small businesses.”
He said the agency works with startups as well as those which are already operating and need help moving to their next level.
The agency estimates that over the past six years, its financial, entrepreneurial and technology assistance programs have generated more than $9.5 billion in total economic impact on the state’s economy.
Events such as the one in Yonkers are “one of the essential tools that we use to spread the word about our programs,” Salaberrios said.
He spends most of his time on the road, ticking off stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and the Mohawk Valley as being typical of his weekly schedule.
“My team and I go out and meet the folks, determine what their needs are and design programs that will meet the needs of the communities that we are interacting with,” he said.
Westchester County has been partnering with Empire State Development in bringing the Access to Capital program to Yonkers.
“Small businesses are the engine for economic growth in Westchester and having access to capital is key to their continued success,” County Executive George Latimer said.
The Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund will be making $4 million available to businesses in economically distressed areas in lower Westchester, south of Interstate 287.
“The funds will be focused on loans to small businesses that have had difficulty accessing regular credit markets,” Salaberrios said. “If you go to Mount Vernon, there are small businesses that are crying for help and if we help them there that’s going to help the community with places to shop, places to eat, places to socialize.”
Loan amounts up to $150,000 are available for fixed-asset purchases and working capital needs. Participating lenders include BOC Capital Corp., Community Capital New York Inc., Excelsior Growth Fund and TruFund Financial Services.
ESD estimates that from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2018 the $25 million it put into the MERF program was leveraged to produce a total of $452.6 million in loans for New York businesses.
The Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund is just one of several Access to Capital elements ESD’s Small Business Division offers. Its Bridge to Success Loan Program provides short-term working capital loans for state-certified minority and women-owned businesses to bid on local, county or state government contracts. Those loans range from $75,000 to $200,000 with terms from eight to 18 months.
The NYS Surety Bond Assistance Program guarantees up to 30% of up to $2 million in bonds a small business may be required to put up when contracts require performance and other bonds.
Under its Linked Deposit Program, Empire State Development makes deposits in certain banks which, in turn, agree to lend to qualified businesses at a discounted interest rate. The state gives up the interest it would be entitled to receive with that amount deducted from the interest the business has to pay on the loan.
The Job Development Authority provides low-cost direct loans to assist eligible businesses in financing up to 60% of the cost of real estate acquisition, construction or renovation. Facilities to be used for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and certain service businesses are eligible for the loans.
Some business owners with whom Salaberrios has dealt with start out thinking that getting involved with his agency is going to be something like “going to a dentist – it’s going to be painful. Once we get involved with them and they realize what we can and cannot do, they really let their guard down and understand that we’re here to help. The overwhelming majority of the folks we deal with leave with a very positive attitude about New York state and what we’re trying to do,” he said.