STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Part of the city’s recovery program now includes three programs for small businesses that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Department of Small Business (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris have announced the three programs — NYC Storefront Loan, Reducing Business Debt, and Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant — that are available to businesses in low-to-moderate income ZIP codes.
“Our fight against COVID-19 has been costly for the small businesses that anchor New York City’s neighborhoods,’’ de Blasio said. “We’re proud to offer real relief to help these business owners keep their teams together and continue serving their communities for years to come.”
South Shore Councilman Joe Borelli thanked de Blasio and Doris for recognizing that small businesses are suffering and offering programs to help keep them afloat. However, the programs are not as inclusive as they can be, he said.
Because eligibility for the interest-free loan program is based on the median income of a ZIP code, it hurts some businesses, Borelli said.
“It’s a program that’s not perfect, but it will help some businesses and it should be irrelevant what the income of residents of a neighborhood are,’’ Borelli told the Advance/SILive.com. “Rather, it should be based on the businesses that are affected by COVID lockdowns vs. those that aren’t.’’
The plan unintentionally excludes ZIP codes, and therefore businesses, that are in state designated orange zones.
“So, you can have a salon that’s still open, charging exorbitant amounts of money for haircuts, and they would qualify for a loan, but Mike’s barber shop in Great Kills wouldn’t,” Borelli said.
The oversight is reminiscent of issues with the federal Paycheck Protect Program (PPP). Many small businesses reported being denied loans through that program, while multi-million-dollar corporations were eligible.
Borelli (R-South Shore) sent a letter to de Blasio and Commissioner Doris on Monday asking them to reconsider the eligibility for the loan program and include businesses that have been forced to shutter due to orange and red zone designations.
His letter also asked de Blasio and Doris to extended eligibility for the Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant to include BIDs in orange zones.
“We have the South Shore BID that could be the recipient of one of those grants, and we’re actually in an orange zone,” he said. “But who understands the criteria of why they picked Stapleton and St. George, which is fine, but the South Shore BID also helps businesses in three towns and is in an orange zone.”
“Businesses that have been shut through no fault of their own should be given preference,” he said.
NYC LMI STOREFRONT LOAN
Thirty-five million in zero-interest loans is being made available by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the city Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and Pursuit BDC. Loans are for 60 months and require no repayment for the first six months.
Eligible businesses can apply for a loan of up to $100,000, which can be used to help businesses restart or to help operations continue due to struggles because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Qualifying businesses must:
- Be a storefront business located within an LMI (low-to-medium income) ZIP code;
- Have business operations since or before Jan. 1, 2018;
- Demonstrate the ability to repay and must have been cash flow positive in 2019;
- Employ between two and 99 employees.
Interested businesses can apply for the LMI Storefront loan here.
REDUCING BUSINESS DEBT
The Interest Rate Reduction Grant will help reduce the interest expense owed on an existing loan with select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). Business owners who more often have issues accessing capital – such as Asian, Black, Latinx, and immigrant business owners – will be given priority.
Businesses must have an existing loan with a CDFI to be eligible. A list of eligible CDFIs can be found here.
STRATEGIC IMPACT COVID-19 COMMERCIAL DISTRICT SUPPORT GRANT
The Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant will give funding to local community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement local support for small businesses.
Local support includes outreach and technical support to increase awareness about city and state COVID-19 regulations, and to foster local merchant relationships and collaborations.
Over the next six months, $700,000 will be made available for eligible CBOs, including those in St. George and Stapleton on Staten Island.
Interested CBOs can find more information and apply here.