By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG
NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ As Adam Weprin looks over the damage to the Bridge Cafe caused by Superstorm Sandy, he wonders where â¿¿ and when â¿¿ he'll get the money to repair his Lower Manhattan restaurant.
Stores, restaurants, factories and offices across the Northeast were damaged or destroyed by the Oct. 29 storm. So far, almost all the recovery money that's being offered to small businesses by government agencies is in the form of loans, but taking on debt is one of the last things owners want to do as they try to recover from the storm in an already challenging economy.
Grants that don't have to be repaid are a more desirable option for most owners â¿¿ and after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and Hurricane Katrina, many small business owners were saved by these kinds of funds. But so far, grant money for small businesses hurt by Sandy is relatively scarce. While many larger businesses also have big recovery costs, the need is more urgent for small companies because they tend to have fewer reserves and are more dependent on cash flowing in daily. Small business owners that don't get back to business fast could be forced to close their doors forever.In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced $5.5 million in grants for small businesses from two not-for-profit organizations, the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and the Partnership for New York City. But that won't go far, considering that thousands of businesses suffered damage, many of them into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Citywide, the damage estimate for homes and businesses was put at $19 billion. In New Jersey, the cost of recovery and rebuilding from the storm was an estimated $37 billion. All told, Sandy caused an estimated $62 billion in damage in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. It's not known how much of the damage was suffered by small businesses.