“Not only will this pilot program cover at least half of the cost of connectivity, but it will also offer business owners a competitive rate to finance the rest,” Bellone said.

During Small Business Month, Suffolk County Executive Steve Veron today signed legislation authorizing a pilot program to provide small business owners with financial assistance to reduce the cost of connecting to the county’s sewer system. The program will provide grants of up to $15,000 to eligible small business property owners, and the county will partner with Dime Bank to provide low-interest loans to fund remaining connection costs to minimize out-of-pocket costs to property owners .

“Just as we work to replace outdated septic systems and sump basins with the latest technology affordable to homeowners, we need to make sure small business owners who are still recovering from the pandemic can afford to be able to connect to their local sewer system,” County Executive Veron said. “Not only will this pilot program cover at least half of the cost of connectivity, but it will also offer business owners a competitive rate to finance the rest.”

The pilot program complements the county’s ongoing efforts to replace outdated septic systems and cesspools with sewer. While the county continues to expand sewers, commercial and corporate properties are responsible for the cost of connecting to county sewer collection facilities while the economy is still recovering from the financial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The pilot program, which will award $1 million from the county’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program Fund, is expected to begin accepting applications in fall 2023 and is expected to help approximately 65 small business owners, 25 of whom will have fewer employees .

The initial $1 million will allow the County to gauge the need for additional funding, identify other potential funding sources, and evaluate what other factors may be relevant in determining how best to allocate future funding for commercial and commercial real estate connections.

The Mastics & Shirley Chamber of Commerce Chairman Frank Montanez Jr. said: “We are delighted to hear that Resolution 346-2023 is being signed and moving forward. As the Chamber, our primary goal is to advocate for all small businesses in our community, and this pilot program is a huge step forward to help us of local businesses receive some form of financial assistance to connect to upcoming sewer projects. These are difficult times for many of our small businesses, with high inflation, high product costs, difficulty finding and maintaining staff, and offsetting Any cost to help these do business is welcome. We look forward to this financial help and the completion of the sewer project, bringing much-needed economic development to our region.”

Dime CEO Kevin O’Connor said: Dime Community Bank is pleased to partner with Suffolk County to support this innovative program to help reduce sewer connection costs and improve water quality for small businesses. ”

The historic $224 million Forge River Watershed Sewer District project is under construction, but federal grant funds do not cover the cost of connecting individual business properties to the sewer area, so that cost is borne by the business owner.

The pilot program will assist small business owners on the Mastic Shirley Peninsula while construction is underway and follows the county’s recent commitment of $28 million to expand the Forge River Sewer project currently under construction.

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