Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership. Recognizing the economic impact of COVID-19, this program will provide small businesses and their landlords with informational resources and pro bono assistance to help both parties reach mutually-beneficial lease workout agreements. This service is available to all New York State small businesses and landlords, and participation is voluntary. Over the next year, the partnership has the capacity to serve thousands of small businesses statewide.
As part of this program, Empire State Development is partnering with the New York State Bar Association and Start Small Think Big, a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting small, under-resourced entrepreneurs with high-quality professional services. For this partnership, Start Small will be offering pro bono legal services from its network of more than 1,000 attorneys, to commercial tenants and landlords seeking lease amendments to cope with the impacts of COVID-19. The New York State Bar Association has served as the voice of the state's legal profession for more than 140 years and will support the recruitment and training of additional volunteer attorneys.
The Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership website includes information on the lease renegotiation process and details the different types of lease workouts available to help small businesses cope with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Those interested in pro bono assistance to initiate a lease renegotiation are encouraged to review and complete the partnership's intake form. After completing the form, each small business will receive an email detailing an estimated timeline for placement with a volunteer attorney. Once matched, the volunteer attorney will email the applicant to schedule an appointment.
This partnership furthers the state's ongoing efforts to mitigate pandemic-related commercial evictions. On October 20, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order extending the state's moratorium on COVID-related commercial evictions and foreclosures through January 1. This extends protections already in place for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the pandemic's financial toll on business owners. The extension of this protection gives commercial tenants and mortgagors additional time to catch up on outstanding rent or mortgage bills, or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure moving forward.
The partnership is also the latest resource that furthers New York State's commitment to supporting small businesses struggling in the wake of COVID-19. In October, Governor Cuomo launched Empire State Digital, a new initiative accelerating New York State-based small businesses' ability to grow their online presence through a first-in-the-nation program with leading global e-commerce enablers, offering specialized solutions unique to the needs of the state's small businesses.
Additionally, the New York Forward Loan Fund continues to provide working capital loans of up to $100,000 to help small businesses and non-profit organizations reopen.