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Disaster Relief Programs Boost NYC Small Businesses

By James Smith
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 19, 2012 Last Updated: December 5, 2012
Related articles: United States » New York City
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Employees at Trattoria near the East River in Lower Manhattan clean off chairs after they cleared the restaurant after flooding. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

Employees at Trattoria near the East River in Lower Manhattan clean off chairs after they cleared the restaurant after flooding. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Small businesses around the city have weathered the worst of recent storms. Many were hit hard by physical damage and loss of cash flow. Now in Sandy’s wake a number of avenues have been provided to give life back to effected businesses.

Small business owner Maria Barraza runs two design and manufacturing wholesale outlets that produce women’s designer clothing. One is in Manhattan and the other in Connecticut. While her shops didn’t suffer any physical damage, her usual stream of buyers who come from Long Island and New Jersey just are not coming.

Barraza first heard of disaster relief grants and loans in a local Connecticut paper before she quickly called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to register. FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are offering various low interest loans for uninsured property losses and loss of income.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney held a Small Business Disaster Relief Information session on Nov. 19 at Baruch College in Manhattan. The session brought together representatives from each of the funding bodies. “The idea is that the community can become a whole, as quickly as possible,” said Maloney.

The Sea-Horse restaurant, near the East River in Lower Manhattan, sustained heavy flooding during Superstorm Sandy. Owner Sherry Delamarter worked hard to reopen the bar Thursday Nov. 15. Her next goal is to reopen the restaurant. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

The Sea-Horse restaurant, near the East River in Lower Manhattan, sustained heavy flooding during Superstorm Sandy. Owner Sherry Delamarter worked hard to reopen the bar Thursday Nov. 15. Her next goal is to reopen the restaurant. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

FEMA is offering NYC Business Emergency Loans up to $25,000 for those who experienced business interruptions. Loans are interest free for the first six months, followed by 1 percent interest for the following 24 months. Depending on the number of applicants, the loans should be approved within 21 days or even as little as 7 days.

Longer term financial needs may be met with SBA’s disaster loan of up to $2 million for physical property damage and various assets. The deadline for applying is Dec. 31, 2012.

A separate loan program of the SBA does not require physical damages to qualify and will accommodate economic injury to meet working capital needs, also up to $2 million. The deadline for applying is July 31, 2013.

Both SBA loans are available at 3 percent interest for nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for regular businesses, with repayment terms up to 30 years.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is raising funds for small businesses around the city. They will offer grants of $500 to help cover cleanup, rent, payroll, and similar costs. The deadline for applying is Dec. 31, 2012, with grants being awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Barraza has been in business for 24 years and has experienced three recessions. “This is the worst of them,” said Barraza. “I’ve been through the school of hard knocks.” Things are gradually picking up however the recent storms have been a little bit of a setback, according to Barraza.

The combination of grants and loans will certainly help Barraza to keep operations going. She plans to invest in some advertising to boost sales, which will then lead to buying more materials and manufacturing costs.

She holds hope for the future in the hands of the current administration. “Obama understands small business,” said Barraza.

The Sea-Horse Restaurant near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Lower East Side was cleaned out by the flood. “Basically, it’s start from scratch,” said owner Sherry Delamarter after the flood. Nevertheless, the bar reopened on Nov. 15.

Delamarter has raised $8,000 on the Sea-Horse website and has also applied for FEMA funding to help get things back up and running. “We will open the restaurant again and that’s what we’re working on,” said Delamarter in a determined tone.

Congresswoman Maloney reported that more than 2,400 homes have been through the FEMA process so far, totaling $449,000 approved funds across greater New York. The message from the various funding bodies was to get the word out there and apply for it.

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