As state officials and community leaders determine how different sections of New York will reduce restrictions on commercial activity, businesses need to find innovative ways to promote their services to potential customers.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo imposed stay-at-home directives in March to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus. These resulted in non-essential businesses closing their doors and residents limiting outside excursions for the time being.

The goal has been to avoid unnecessary social interactions that could increase the rate of infection. Mr. Cuomo this week discussed his strategy for allowing more companies to reopen if their regions met specified criteria.

The Johnson Newspaper Corp.’s marketing agency, Downtown Digital Group, has launched a program called A Hand Up Marketing Grant to help businesses return to providing what people need. The Daily News and the Livingston County News are part of the corporation.

The matching grant program for clients in Western, Central,and Northern New York as well as the Hudson Valley will help businesses maximize their advertising budgets so they can reach more customers as they restart their operations.

“Everyone who owns a business is eager to get things rolling again and we want to help local businesses recapture the attention of local consumers,” Michael Messerly, vice president of advertising and digital revenue for the Downtown Digital Group and the Johnson Newspaper Corp., said in a story published Tuesday in The Daily News (and Thursday in the Livingston County News).

“Soon, people are going to be out and about and we want to help business owners reintroduce themselves and the products and services best offered by local businesses.”

Matching grants of up to $5,000 will be offered to businesses in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming and Erie and Monroe counties. Businesses are also eligible if they are headquartered in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Oneida, Onondaga, Franklin, Clinton, Greene, Columbia, Albany, Berkshire, Dutchess and Ulster counties.

This will assist companies marketing through the publications and digital platforms of Johnson Newspaper Corp., including The Daily News and Livingston County News and our associated websites, and Other participating publication are Watertown Daily Times and, Advance News, Courier Observer, (Catskill) Daily Mail, Journal and Republican in Lowville, Malone Telegram, (Hudson) Register Star, Oswego County News and Oswego Shopper as well as all of their associated websites, including and

“The advertising management of the Downtown Digital Group will review all applications and assign them to the respective publications, which will reach out and design a marketing plan with each grant recipient to maximize the grant value to its fullest extent,” according to The Daily Newsstory. “A representative from Downtown Digital Group will follow up with each business that applies for A Hand Up Grant. … Applications are available online only due to COVID-19 concerns. The application process begins immediately, and the marketing will be used throughout May to get a stronger jump-start on the summer to get business as close to normal again as possible.”

This program will present companies an opportunity to extend their advertising budgets even further by matching the amount they allocate for marketing purposes on Johnson Newspaper Corp. platforms.

“We will be working with each A Hand Up Grant winner to design a marketing plan that reaches the right audience at the right time with the right message,” Mr. Messerly said. “Online-only businesses have created a new foothold in local consumers’ wallets and checkbooks. We will work with our local businesses to remind local consumers that it’s actually more enjoyable to be out of the house and out shopping again.”

Visit or to complete an application for the grant program.

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