BY BENJAMIN FANG
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the economy, the Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted a town hall on resources for small businesses. On April 2, business owners tuned in virtually to hear advice from the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Umbrex and more.
The town hall began with remarks by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who expressed that the state government’s top priority is to make sure everyone gets through the health care and economic crisis. “How we respond will define us for the next few decades,” she said. Hochul said everyone needs help now, and that there’s “no shame in asking” for assistance.
She urged small businesses to identify the opportunities that come out of the ordeal. “My heart is with Queens,” she added. “We’ll get through this.”
Deshaun Mars, director of business outreach with SBS, said the agency is offering both a grant program and a loan program for affected businesses. The Employee Retention Grant Program was offered to small businesses with fewer than five employees. It covers 40 percent of payroll costs for two months. SBS stopped taking applications on Friday, April 3.
Eligible businesses or nonprofits must be located in the five boroughs. They must also demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic caused at least a 25 percent decrease in revenue. Mars added that applicants must have been in operation for at least six months, and have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments. The Small Business Continuity Loan Fund offers no-interest loans of up to $75,000 for businesses with fewer than 100 employees within the five boroughs.
Applicants must also demonstrate a 25 percent or more drop in sales due to the pandemic, an ability to repay the loan, and have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments. Mars said necessary documents include payroll records, banks statements and other files to demonstrate revenue loss.
He noted that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also has a host of loan and grant programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Paycheck Protection Program and a bridge loan.
“SBS is here to support your business,” Mars said. “The city is here as a resource.”