Businesses to get marketing grants under proposed legislation


A bill in the New York State Legislature would help small business owners better market themselves and promote their businesses, as Long Island’s economy begins to reopen.

Under the “New York First” bill, A10473, money from the State Department of Economic Development and the New York State Urban Development Corporation would be used to provide small business owners grants of up to $10,000 for marketing campaigns, consultation services and search engine optimization lessons. The business owners would have to apply for the funds, detailing how they would use the money and listing any additional business assistance services they receive. They would also have to identify the specific target audiences they are trying to reach, and explain how they would measure their success.

Additionally, local Chambers of Commerce, business improvement districts and other nonprofits that support local businesses could apply for the funding to create cost-effective ways to encourage New Yorkers to shop local.

“We need to do everything we can to promote small businesses,” Assemblyman Ed Ra, a Republican from Franklin Square who introduced the bill in the State Legislature on May 22, said at a news conference on Wednesday, adding that the state already has the money set aside for economic development.

That money could instead be used to promote the state’s “mom and pop” shops, he said, rather than the large online retailers that New Yorkers have been buying from, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the New York on Pause order in March. 

The order declared that all non-essential businesses would be closed statewide to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Only “essential” personnel, including health care workers, grocery store employees and pharmacists, were allowed to continue working. 

But Kevin Hyms, president of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce who expressed his support for the legislation at the news conference, said, “All businesses are essential,” and Assemblyman Doug Smith, a Republican from Holbrook, noted that 95 percent of the businesses in New York are small businesses. 

“Our communities are built on small business,” said Eric Alexander, of the Long Island Main Street Alliance. “Now is really the time to let the communities know it’s time to reopen.”

Long Island began to “un-pause” and reopen its economy on May 27, when construction, wholesale trade and retailers were allowed to restart operations for curbside pickup. If the number of deaths, hospitalizations and new Covid-19 cases remain stable or decline, professional services, finance and insurance, real estate and leasing companies could begin to reopen next week.