3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: February 28

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - What's happening in small business today?

1. Gun sellers finding new outlets to list weapons. Even with Google ( GOOG), eBay ( EBAY) and Amazon ( AMZN) banning weapons listings on their sites, sellers are finding new online marketplaces for their guns, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

"In 2000, when the U.S. Department of Justice last did an official tally, there were about 80 online firearm auction sites and approximately 4,000 other sites offering guns for sale in the U.S. Today, as the national gun control debate intensifies in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, it's a safe bet that gun buyers have even more online options," the article says.

FreeGunShow.com and GunCycle.com , which launches March 1, are two examples of the new websites that have popped up.

2. Citigroup extended $9.6 billion in small-business lending last year. As part of a $24 billion, three-year commitment to small businesses, Citigroup ( C) approved $9.6 billion in loans to small businesses last year, up 21% from 2011 and more than double its approvals in 2009, the bank said Thursday.

"Small businesses are a critical component of a strong economy and Citi is committed to helping support their growth," said CEO Michael Corbat. "We have increased our lending to entrepreneurs across the U.S. and again exceeded the annual goal for our $24-billion commitment. I'm proud of the dedicated bankers who work with our clients to help them realize their dream of running their own business."

Along with other major banks, Citi pledged in September 2011 a total of $24 billion in lending to small businesses over the course of three years - $7 billion in 2011, $8 billion in 2012 and $9 billion in 2013. The announcement was in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide access to lending and capital that will speed economic recovery. Citi's total small business lending over the first two years of the pledge is now at $17.5 billion.

3. Lower Manhattan back to business four months after Sandy - sort of. Four months after Hurricane Sandy disrupted America's fourth largest central business district, while isolated restoration work continues, the vast majority of Lower Manhattan - the area below Chambers Street - is back to business, according to a report by the Downtown Alliance.

According to the report:
  • 99% of commercial office space is open;
  • 99% of residential inventory is open;
  • 96% of hotel inventory is open; and
  • 90% of retailers are open.

"Lower Manhattan's recovery from Sandy has been vigorous. The Downtown Alliance's research shows dramatic improvement across all of Lower Manhattan's major markets. Moreover, property owners and utility companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the district's future to protect against the threats of future storms," said Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth H. Berger.

The district's 1,082 shops, restaurants and storefront services perhaps felt the greatest impact of Hurricane Sandy. Approximately 30% of businesses were closed for more than a week after the storm. Just two weeks after the storm, however, 50 of the total 320 closed stores had already reopened. By the end of December, a total 87% of retailers were open south of Chambers Street. Today, 90% of retailers are open.

One area that has not recovered very well from Sandy is South Street Seaport. According to a recent Huffington Post article, the area is still a ghost town, with roughly 85% of the small businesses are still boarded up.

Separately, Long Island small businesses in Sandy's path get free marketing from a local radio station. American Express ( AXP) OPEN and Long Island radio station, WALK-FM, has partnered to offer local businesses suffering from Hurricane Sandy a free local directory and air time to help get the word out that they're open for business. Eligible businesses in storm-affected areas will have the opportunity for on-air exposure. Submit your business no later than March 15, 2013.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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