Op-Ed: Where to turn for help


| editorial@queenscourier.com |

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO

As if a sluggish economy wasn’t enough for our local businesses to deal with, they now have to deal with the aftermath of Sandy. But as business owners start to pick up the pieces, many of whom also experienced personal losses at their own home, it is imperative that our city, state and federal government have programs that would assist getting these businesses open as soon as possible.

It has been weeks since Sandy hit our city and still the southern one third of my district is trying to recuperate. At this time, over 13,000 residents and businesses are without power in Rockaway. The areas of Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach are suffering economically. By working together with our business owners, community groups, chambers of commerce and other governmental entities, over time we can revive the now dormant store fronts into active businesses once again. It is important for our businesses to know that they are not in this rebuilding period alone. I reassure store owners throughout my district that they can use my office as a resource for information and programs that have been established in the wake of Sandy.

The New York City Small Business Services and Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) have set up a number of programs to aid businesses who are seeking to reopen. These programs range from offering temporary work space to providing supplies and services. There are programs that deal with employee retention and alternatives to laying off workers. There is also financial assistance through an emergency loan program that offers up to $25,000 with no payments for six months and a 1% interest rate for months seven through 30. A tax exemption program through the NYC Industrial Developmental Agency exists for purchases of construction materials and equipment up to $100,000. The New York City assistance for businesses can be found at www.nyc.gov and www.nycedc.com.

New York State is offering aid through the Empire State Development (ESD) and Small Business Development Centers. For their services and recovery planning contact www.esd.ny.gov and www.nyssbdc.org . ESD is supporting several organizations that have made loans available to businesses affected by Sandy. Some of these loans have early no interest payments and go up to $150,000. Those interested can get detailed information at www.accionusa.org/sandy or by calling 718-205-3773 and 718-961-0888.

On the federal level, both the Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are offering loans for businesses at www.sba.gov. Information on tax relief can be found at www.irs.gov. Business owners seeking additional information as to other programs that exist, also for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) information, can complete an application at www.disasterassistance.gov.

I encourage owners to reach out to their elected officials for additional information on governmental assistance and other programs which exist to assist such businesses.

While my Howard Beach district office gets reconstructed after being wrecked by Sandy, I drive around the affected areas of my district and weeks later cannot believe the devastation. I know I will eventually get to attend another function at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, but can never eat lunch again at Harbor Light Pub in Belle Harbor, Rockaway, which was sadly destroyed from fires caused by the storm. For the sake of our communities, for the sake of our neighbors, for the sake of our business owners, we must work together to get our local businesses back on their feet and running again.