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Sandy One Year Later: A Story of Small-Business Regeneration

New York City

It's one of the reasons New York City, for instance, is providing expanded and re-launched programs for small business owners. In May, it re-launched a $72 billion recovery loan and matching grant program with funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan for small businesses that still haven't been able to reopen yet. 

Small business owners impacted by Sandy can generally receive up to $150,000 in the form of 1%-interest loans or matching grants of up to $60,000 to use toward working capital and moveable equipment. (Some businesses may be eligible for loans of up to $1 million and grants up to $100,000.) Applications are being accepted through September 2017. (Note: assistance received from other entities, such as insurance, other private grants and state and federal assistance are taken into account when determining the award amount, the department says.)

The program follows the efforts immediately after the storm by the city to reach businesses through a loan and matching grant program funded by the New York City Economic Development Corp., Goldman Sachs GS and the New York Bankers Association. Yet those loans maxed out at $25,000 and matching grants were made up to $10,000.

In New York City, "there's been tremendous rebuilding and recovery," says Merideth Weber, press secretary for the New York City Department of Small Business Services. "Not everyone, unfortunately has been able to reopen, but we're definitely seeing places that are actually stronger than before the storm."

Weber also pointed to initiatives the city is supporting to help specific "commercial corridors" under its watch rebuild and improve their business vitality.

Red Hook, Brooklyn, for instance, is looking to broaden its appeal to shoppers, through the utilization of a grant program sponsored by MasterCard MA, the Department of Small Business Services and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.

Red Hook, which received $40,000 after the storm, has been working with a consulting company as part of the MasterCard grant to help retailers determine where there is a gap in business demand and then attract relevant businesses to the neighborhood, Weber says.

Another area that's rebuilding with a plan is Rockaway, Queens. A $90,000 grant is specifically helping merchants along Beach 116th Street - one of the hardest hit areas from the storm -- start a new merchants' organization, improve safety and sanitation and generally revitalize what was seen as a deteriorated neighborhood. 

"Our focus started with Beach 116th Street because with an estimated 74 business spaces, a diverse retail mix, direct access to the beach and A train, and family businesses that have operated on the corridor for decades, Beach 116th Street is uniquely positioned to lead commercial revitalization in the Rockaways," Weber adds. "If revitalization starts with Beach 116th Street, the idea is that neighboring corridors will follow."

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