Recorder News Staff

FONDA — Departments within Montgomery County are teaming up to apply for the Agriculture Microenterprise Grant in an effort to create jobs and help small businesses in the community.

The Montgomery County Business Development Center, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, is applying for the grant through the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal, Community Development Block Grant Microenterprise Program. It’s purpose is to target small agricultural businesses by providing funds for start-up ventures or expansion of existing agricultural businesses. Funding is a 10 percent minimum owner equity match grant program.

Montgomery County Legislators on Tuesday passed a resolution in support of the application.

Montgomery County Senior Planner/ GIS Specialist Amanda Bearcroft said they are applying for $200,000.

“We always hear Montgomery County is a heavily agriculture county,” she said. “We are really trying to get the word out and get the funding available to help these people and to show them that yes, we understand that Montgomery County is ag and we are here to help you grow.”

Bearcroft said the businesses who qualify will be eligible to receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The grants are intended as working-capital for equipment, inventory and operation, not construction, and the businesses need to be located within Montgomery County.

Julicia Godbout, economic development coordinator for Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, said there are endless possibilities in regards to what the funds could be used for.

“Basically it could be used towards anything agricultural … on a farm that will allow advancement in their business,” she said. “Any idea is a possibility depending on what they want to do with it, whether they are purchasing equipment for harvesting, or expanding their business with a value added product.”

She used machinery for starting up milk processing or trying to distribute products throughout the county as examples.

Pre-applications are due to Bearcroft by July 11, which is for pre-screening only and the submittal does not guarantee acceptance to the program if the county is awarded. Bearcroft said a committee will review the pre-applications and distribute points in an effort to find the applications most eligible for funds.

A few ways to earn five bonus points, Bearcroft said, is if an applicant is looking to expand their existing business or would start up craft beverage production in the county.

“We are kind of in a drought area for craft beverages and I feel like all the counties surrounding us are saturated and filling up with these,” she said.

Bearcroft said applicants can also receive five points if they are trying to do a shared services type of business between agriculture producers.

Applications, rules and eligibility are available on the Montgomery County Business Development Center website and can be sent to [email protected]

Bearcroft said typically, award winners are not announced until December and if the county receives the funding, it would likely be available next summer.

Bearcroft said the county is very hopeful the application will be a success.

“If this is successful it’s something that we want to look at applying for every single year since it would be a county-wide opportunity for everyone,” she said.