SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Tim Edwards opened SouthSide Fitness in Valley Plaza almost six years ago.

“I wanted to open this gym for the community,” Edwards said. “We take cash, we do cards, we do whatever it takes to get the members in here for this community.”

He had around 215 members until the pandemic forced them to close. Reopening hasn’t been easy either.

“It’s tough, we lost half our members,” Edwards explained, “That means we lost the money to pay for the lease and the lights and things like that a lot of that stuff I had to actually come out of my pocket for that.”

He applied for a loan through the City of Syracuse and was able to make upgrades to ensure the gym is safe to use. He was able to buy and install sanitizing stations among other things.

“We bought an air purifier, which something like this is almost $2,500,” Edwards said pointing to a purifier, “So we got three of these through the funding.”

The Syracuse Economic Development Corporation is now accepting applications for round one of its one million dollar lending program. It is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. There are three different funding options based on a business’ size and designation.

“The maximum you can apply for depending on which of those three you select, $5,000 which comes with that forgiveability option if you’re a micro enterprise going all the way up to $200,000,” said Eric Ennis, the Deputy Director of the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development.

“This is the purpose of ARPA, to put resources in the hands of those that need it most,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

Even though it’s been tough on Edwards, closing wasn’t an option for him.

“I come from this community. I grew up in this community. I used to be homeless in this community. So it’s just important for me to give back.”

The deadline to apply for round one is December 31st. There will be future rounds announced later. Details on the program and the application process, including an initial intake questionnaire that must be completed by interested applicants can be found at