ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Entrepreneurs in the City of Albany can start applying for round two of the Small Business Vitality Assistance Program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

As the program gears up for more funding to go out to local businesses, NEWS10 caught up with recipients of round one to find out how the grants helped them overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

Karen Maxwell is the owner of Kema’s Kreations, located at the Community Loan Fund building on Orange Street. She’s a seamstress who makes unique fashion bags with everything from leather to studs, and wood, even featuring paintings from artists on her handbags.

COVID-19 threw her business for a loop, and she was one of 26 Albany entrepreneurs and businesses to receive a total of more than $200,000 in recovery funding from the program, which is a partnership between the city, the Downtown Business Improvement District, and several other groups.

“I was able to maintain insurance on the business, which, being in this space, you are required to have insurance on your business, and I lost That during COVID,” Maxwell said, “that was one of those things that had to kind of go, because I had to keep a roof over my head.”

“Everything is just slowly moving, but it’s moving along where I’ve been able to maintain,” Maxwell added.

Another recipient from round one is Angelo Maddox Jr., owner of Fresh & Fly Clothing on South Pearl Street. His part of the grant helped him take care of a past due bill that was hanging over his head. He encourages anyone who applies, even if they don’t ultimately get the funding, to attend one of four small business resource open houses hosted by the program.

“It goes way beyond just the ARPA grants funding program. It’s other resources that are available, that might hit directly for your business, and might be the key component to your business surviving, succeeding, and thriving,” Maddox Jr. said.

Funds given out in round one of the programs were used for COVID Recovery, Entrepreneur Class/Program Tuition, and Technical Assistance costs. Round two will help business owners in six categories: COVID Recovery, Entrepreneur Class/Program Tuition, Technical Assistance, Marketing, Equipment/Supplies, and small-scale Façade Improvements.

Grants of $2,000-$15,000 will be awarded, with individual funding based on the application that meets the basic eligibility requirements, demonstrated need, impact to business growth, business fluency, capacity, and prior support.    

To apply for round two of funding, you can complete an intake form.

Free and open to the public, upcoming Small Business Resource Open Houses are being held at the STEAM Garden (279 Central Avenue) on Tuesday, August 15 at 9:00 AM and Noon, and on Thursday, August 17 at 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. You can register here.