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Braunstein, Queens Chamber and local BIDs talk COVID-19 recovery at small business roundtable

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein talks COVID-19 economic relief with Queens Chamber President & CEO Tom Grech and local BID representatives. (Photo via Braunstein’s office)

Last week, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and the Queens Chamber of Commerce met with chamber members and Business Improvement District (BID) leaders for a small business roundtable.

The discussion, which followed the lawmaker’s recent appointment to the Assembly’s Working Group on Transitioning NY Economy Toward COVID-19 recovery, centered around steps toward post-pandemic economic relief, small business support and the upcoming FY2022 state budget.

Back in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined facets of the executive budget, including $130 million that would go toward the Pandemic Recovery and Restart Program. Under the program, which Braunstein called on the state Legislature to expand, funds would be allocated to create the Small Business and Restaurant Return-To-Work Tax Credit programs.

“In the last year, the COVID-19 health crisis has presented extraordinary challenges to New York City small businesses and restaurants, who are doing their best to continuously adapt and survive,” said Braunstein. “With New York’s commercial eviction moratorium expiring, we need real and immediate rent relief for our small businesses. It is critical that the New York state budget include this and other needed relief and that the federal government provide the necessary funds so that New York business owners are positioned for success.”

Several BID directors were present at the Feb. 26 roundtable, including Christine Silletti from the Bayside Village BID, Jaime-Faye Bean from Sunnyside Shines, Elizabeth Lusskin from the LIC Partnership and Kevin Alexander of the Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation.

The directors echoed the urgent need for commercial rent relief, while also highlighting some inconsistencies between city and state regulation and enforcement and the need for relief grants for newer businesses.

“The Queens Chamber is honored to work with NYS Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and the COVID-19 Recovery Working Group he is representing,” said Thomas J. Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Assemblyman Braunstein is a trusted partner of business not only in Queens, but statewide. We thank him for asking for the input of our members, large and small, as we emerge from the COVID pandemic.”

In February, Speaker Carl Heastie appointed Braunstein to the Working Group on Transitioning N.Y. Economy Toward COVID-19 Recovery in order to aid COVID recovery for workers and businesses on the local and state levels.

“The Assembly Working Group on Transitioning N.Y. Economy Toward COVID-19 Recovery will allow us to take a holistic approach to this recovery process by giving a voice to all stakeholders and allowing us to determine the best strategy for a strong recovery,” Braunstein said. “One year into the pandemic, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and Queens will come out stronger on the other side.”

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