Business owners get help after Sandy

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

With some of their shops damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and unsure where to go for help, business owners were finally able to find out what options are available to them.

Several agencies set up camp at Resorts World New York City on Friday, November 16 to help owners of south Queens get the money they need to reopen. They included New York Business Solutions, the Department of Labor, and the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) also had a table at the forum and had a list of relief options available to proprietors. Mark Randle, a public information officer for the SBA, said that there were several loan options available at rates as low as 1.69 percent with repayment periods as long as 30 years.

Randle encouraged those who lost some or most of their business to apply. Business owners become eligible for more grants by applying for an SBA loan, he said.

“I can’t urge you strongly enough to go through the process and apply,” he said.

And while many shops and businesses were damaged by Sandy, others may have suffered only economic damage because power had been shut off. SBA has working capital loans for business owners to accommodate these needs.

The deadline to apply to these SBA loans is 60 days after the storm struck the area.

Nicola Campbell, who opened her restaurant, Chef Mom Grill & Bakery in the Rockaways less than a year ago, had a significant amount of damage because of the storm. A wall in the eatery was severely damaged, Campbell said, and most of the equipment in the restaurant had been destroyed.

The single mom of three said she didn’t have flood insurance, only general liability insurance on the restaurant. Because she had been open for less than a year, she thought she had few loan alternatives. But after sitting down with an SBA representative, Campbell had a few options to get her business back up and running.

“As soon as I get home, I will be on top of this because I really do need it,” she said. “This is my only income.”

And although there is a long road ahead for many business owners, some were reassured that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Harry Wells, director of CUNY York’s Small Business Development Center and the panel’s moderator, told owners that, while things may seem bad right now, there are possibilities and there is promise down the road.

“I’m not trying to belittle the situation,” he said. “But a lot of the times, there’s gold at the end of the rainbow.”

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