Rochester partnerships aim to help small businesses

The City of Rochester, in partnership with community organizations, is working to provide small businesses throughout Monroe County with guidance on safety and COVID-19 compliance in addition to grant opportunities and financial assistance.

In order to support small businesses, the city has been administering business-assistance programs through Neighborhood Service Centers, which provide such tools as grants, loans and tax credits.

Currently, the intake method for individuals seeking financial assistance is to call 2-1-1/Lifeline to be screened and connected with the appropriate organization to receive further assistance. The emergency hotline is available to anyone experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the spring, both 211 and The Housing Council hotline through PathStone have provided landlords with guidance and resources as well.

According to Housing Council Executive Director Mary Leo, the council is working to provide landlords with information, personal counseling and financial resources to support their businesses.

“We have an operating rental course and a landlord ambassador program to kind of arm landlords, specifically small-business landlords, with the tools and information they need to make it through this crucial and very difficult time period for them as well,” Leo said.

These programs are the main partnerships the organization has with the city and Monroe County, Leo said, in addition to the support the council is receiving for its Closure Prevention program.

Apart from its partnership with the city, PathStone is available to help businesses through the PathStone Enterprise Center, which provides loans to startups and small businesses that would otherwise not qualify for financial lending from banks.

Furthermore, the city’s Jumpstarting ROC pandemic recovery team also is providing guidance to city restaurant owners and other managers through its website, The website provides up-to-date, industry-specific information on city programs and services, answers to popular questions, and news on grant and loan applications.

According to Leo, additional financial guidance and resources can be found within the community at the Financial Empowerment Center located in downtown Rochester that provides free financial literacy information. The center has staff members who are fluent in Spanish and are able to arrange translation or ALS services as well.

“So, get that guidance and your game plan together,” Leo said. “It’s much easier for us to assist now while the rental assistance is still available and the banks are really working with folks. Now is the time to take advantage of what we have to offer.”

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