ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Starting Monday, small businesses impacted by the coronavirus in Albany County can apply for aid from the largest grant relief program in the Capital Region. Apply online for at the Community Loan Fund website.

The application period for the grants—which will be up to $5,000, for up to two months of back rent, up to two weeks of perishable goods, plus any expenses related to retrofitting the business for COVID-19 requirements—ends in two weeks.

Eligible applicants must be a sales-tax-generating, for-profit business located within the county and with under 51 employees. The business must show revenue decreases of at least 25% due to the pandemic and prove that the grant necessary in current economic conditions.

Received applications will be ranked by priority and then scored to determine grant awards. Recipients will get the money starting in February.

The County Legislature’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force (CERT) announced the $500,000 program last Wednesday. They said the small grant program would be able to provide relief within the first quarter of the year, after community officials created it earlier in December.

Albany County officials—Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, Deputy Chairwoman Wanda Willingham, County Executive Daniel McCoy, and Linda MacFarlane, Executive Director of the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region—called it “the most significant investment in grant funding” for people severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the area.

“When our small businesses suffer, our whole community suffers, and COVID isn’t letting up any time soon. Their struggles can be seen in our most recent sales tax reports: Albany County has lost more than $21 million this year compared to the same period in 2019. That is critical funding for the programs and services that lift up our residents. This $500,000 grant program being spearheaded by the County Legislature is another important tool in our arsenal to ensure more of our local establishments are able to survive until we have a widely distributed vaccine,” said McCoy.

They hope to keep struggling local businesses afloat while they face the challenges created by the pandemic. Costs for retrofitting a location include stocking up on personal protective equipment, upgrading to contactless purchasing, registering for online ordering services, installing dividers or air filters, and more.

“This new grant program will offer a lifeline for small business owners,” said MacFarlane.