File photo: Max Parrott/QNS
Councilman Donovan Richards

City Councilman Donovan Richards will introduce a bill Thursday that aims to address the disparity in the allocation of small business grants and loans distributed to combat the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The vast majority of loans and grants distributed by the city’s Department of Small Business Services have gone to small businesses in Manhattan. In fact, the percentage of loans small businesses in Manhattan received is higher than all other boroughs combined.

“Manhattan is one of the least impacted boroughs but have received 66 percent of SBS loans and 54 percent of grants, while Queens received only 9 percent of loans and 16 percent of grants,” Richards said. “The demographic information that we’ve seen proves the racial, gender and geographic disparities that leave our communities crippled due to underinvestment and lack of resources.”

The bill would require the Department of Small Business Services to prepare a report that details which businesses received a loan or grant from the New York City Employee Retention Program or the New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund.

The report would include the name, location and amount of money the city gave to each business. Small Businesses Services would submit the findings to Mayor Bill de Blasio and to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, while also making the report publicly available on the department’s website, the bill states.

Both the employee retention program and the continuity loan fund were created to aid small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Small businesses in Manhattan have received 66 percent of the loans given during the novel coronavirus crisis, according to Small Business Services. Small businesses in Queens received 9 percent of the loans, businesses in Brooklyn received 18 percent, businesses in the Staten Island received 5 percent and businesses in the Bronx received 1 percent of the loans.

The percentage breakdown is similar for grants.

In Manhattan, businesses received 53 percent of the grants, Queens received 16 percent, Brooklyn received 25 percent and both Staten Island and the Bronx received 3 percent each.

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce supports equity across all of New York City when it comes to financial and business support. We applaud Council Member Richards’ effort to address this imbalance,” said Thomas Grech, the president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Sadly, no other county has had more cases and more deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing available resources is an important part of Council Member Richards’ support of small business here in Queens.”

Richards, who is currently running for Queens borough president, has represented southeast Queens and the Rockaways since 2013.


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