Family-run Long Island City business receives funding to stay afloat during pandemic

Clipboard with small business loan application form and pen on desk
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As families, businesses and industries across the country struggle financially during the COVID-19 crisis, some have received much-needed relief, including a family-run Long Island City small business.

While the Paycheck Protection Program has received scrutiny – just this week, New York State Attorney General Letitia James asked major banks to specify how they’ve distributed the loans – some small businesses in Queens have gotten the money they need to stay afloat and pay their employees.

According to Chase, the bank has provided 50,800 New York state businesses with loans, with each loan averaging around $136,000, totaling $6.9 billion in loans. Long Island City Surfaces & American Stone is one of those businesses. 

“It’s helped a lot,” said Meli Litis, the CFO of Long Island City Surfaces & American Stone, a construction company that received PPP funding with the help of  JPMorgan Chase. 

The PPP is a federal program designed to help small businesses through the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. In many cases, the money has gone to small businesses in Queens and throughout the country. In others, the money has gone to somewhat larger businesses, causing outcry from some small businesses owners and small business institutions, including the Queens Chamber of Commerce. 

But for Long Island City Surfaces & American Stone, which has several locations including one in New Rochelle, the initial epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in New York, times were dire and the money was needed. 

“We had to shut down totally,” Litis said. 

Her company, which has about 50 employees across all locations, is a family run business that services many aspects of the construction process. With a statewide halt on construction, the company embarked on creative solutions to help aid them through the rough spot, including creating an online presence and applying for PPP. 

The process of applying for PPP funds, which has been difficult for many, was made easier through Chase, she said.

“Chase was amazing to the whole process,” Litis said. “It was pretty much a painless process.” 

Litis and her co-workers have used the shut down to “bring stuff up to par,” and to “be productive in the time that we have.”

As for the future, Litis hopes all the employees she had prior to the coronavirus shutdown return and that things go back to normal. But still, she feels that day may be a long way away.

“I’m hoping everything’s going to be normal again,” Litis said. “But realistically, it’s not. Things are not going to be the same. It’s going to take a long while before anything comes back to normal.”