Walsh Advances Plan to Spend Stimulus Money on Small Businesses, Youth Jobs, Landmark Theater

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Syracuse, NY – Mayor Ben Walsh has put forward plans to spend the first $ 14 million of the $ 123 million in federal stimulus money coming in on projects including park repairs, small business loans and a program to get more jobs for young people.

Walsh sent proposals for eight projects to the Joint Council this week. They include:

  • $ 6 million for a revolving loan fund for small businesses;
  • $ 1.3 million to pay 2,000 children to participate in enrichment programs by 2023;
  • $ 300,000 for the new police sports league;
  • $ 4.5 million for a municipal sidewalk program;
  • $ 677,000 to improve security in parking garages;
  • $ 55,000 for a pavilion along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Meachem Park;
  • $ 175,000 to replace the fence around Pass Arboretum;
  • $ 800,000 to repair the Burnet Park swimming pool and water feature.

The $ 6 million revolving loan fund would include $ 1.25 million for “subsidized” loans for small businesses (less than 50 employees) and micro businesses (less than 10 employees). It would be administered by the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation.

It also includes a $ 2 million bridge loan to allow the Landmark Theater to begin renovations. The Landmark is awaiting a large sum of money from New York State which has been delayed due to Covid. This money will be used to reimburse the city.

The $ 6 million loan fund came under scrutiny by the Joint Council on Wednesday, which met to discuss the proposals in a study session. Councilor Khalid Bey asked for more details on how forgivable loans would be set up and what kind of interest rate would be applied to other loans.

He asked why the city would not require certain small businesses to repay their loans. Instead, he suggested offering loans with low interest rates of 1 to 1.5% interest.

Bey held that point, which means it won’t be voted on at the next meeting next week.

In a briefing Thursday morning, Walsh said the $ 6 million fund was developed through discussions with advisers. His administration initially proposed a fund of $ 4 million, he said. This amount was increased to $ 6 million at the request of the council.

“It’s a smooth process, working with the board,†Walsh said. “The feedback we received most recently was that they wanted more details on how the extra money they suggested we allocate be used, so we’ll do that.”

Walsh said he was eager to move the money quickly as there is an urgent need in the community.

The council meets Monday for its next vote.


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