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Sunday, May 4, 2014

"Show Me The Money," Says New York Small Business Owners

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast Atlantic coast -- hard. The states with the most severe damage included New Jersey and New York. More than 330 small businesses were damaged in New York City. It's been well over a year and a half and so far only eight business owners have received any grant money to help them rebuild.

Where's the money?

Hurricane Sandy hit in October of 2012. It wasn't until June of 2013 that the federal government funded the NYC Hurricane Sandy Loan & Grant Program that was designed to help business owners with grants up to $60,000 and loans up to $150,000 to help small businesses get back on their feet. Of the total $42 million budgeted for the program, only $2.5 million has been awarded to eight businesses. The Department of Small Business Services who is running the program admits the process is slow but says the extra time is needed due to long and complicated applications designed to prevent fraud.

How this is affecting small business owners

In the meantime, most of the 335 applicants are still waiting for approval, and the money. The problem most are experiencing is how they are going to open their doors and keep the business running in the interim. Many have had no choice but to use their own money to fix up their business, replenish inventory and equipment and pay workers. The kicker is that those who spent money on their business before their grant and loan applications were approved -- which is most all of the applicants -- cannot get reimbursed for those expenses.

What NYC is doing to help

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that he is currently working with HUD to improve the situation by expediting the grant and loan process. He also wants to remove some of the limitations on the amount of funding small businesses can receive under the program.
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