Archive for the tag 'department of small business services'

Nathan’s Famous Is Still Closed, Source: j. reed via wikimedia commons

Six months following Superstorm Sandy, businesses across Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island are still shuttered and the New York Times is reporting that local business owners are growing anxious over what effect the closures will have on the local economy as summer nears.

The Times report pointed to the large number of businesses still closed on tourist-friendly Emmons Avenue.

“Mambo Sushi, gone! Tzar, gone! Fusion, gone!” said Theresa Scavo, the district manager of Community Board 15, as she reeled off the names of destroyed restaurants on a single block of Emmons Avenue, where only a Greek restaurant, Yiasou, managed to reopen.

A block farther along the bay, a few restaurants and cafes where water reached the ceilings were also shuttered. In total, 14 businesses on Emmons Avenue are still closed, Ms. Scavo said, with a dozen more closed elsewhere in the neighborhood. With warm weather approaching, there is concern that tourists will not flock to the bay as they usually do.

“Everybody suffers, because if people are not coming to eat at your restaurant, they won’t shop at my clothing store,” Ms. Scavo said.

(It’s worth noting that the block of Emmons Avenue where they say only one restaurant, Yiasou, is open, there are actually three open restaurants – Yiasou, Baku Palace and Randazzo’s Clam Bar.)

The problems on Emmons Avenue also extend to Coney Island where, among other places, Nathan’s Famous and the New York Aquarium still remain closed.

Along a six-block stretch of Mermaid Avenue, a commercial street in Coney Island that caters to much of the year-round poor and working-class population, many stores are still locked — among them, a Chase bank, a McDonald’s, a bagel store, a Chinese restaurant, a check-cashing place and a Mexican deli. Edward Cosmé, head of the avenue’s trade association, said his 13-year-old beauty parlor, Hair For U, is open only because he spent $40,000 of his own money to replace hair dryers and salon chairs destroyed in the storm, and he received a $25,000 loan at 1 percent interest and $10,000 in cash from the city’s Department of Small Business Services. But the number of customers is down by more than a third, he said, because some residents displaced by the storm have not returned.

Business owners blamed the continued closures on failing to receive timely government assistance that would have made up for money not covered by flood insurance companies. To date, the city has doled out 45 loans to Sheepshead Bay businesses totaling $1 million with 13 grants amounting to $45,000. In Coney Island, 19 loans have been approved totaling $420,700 with eight grants valued at $40,000. According to a NYC Department of Small Business Services rep who spoke to Sheepshead Bites, this represents an 88 to 90 percent approval rate.

Still, the complexity of government forms have tripped up business owners from getting desperately needed assistance from other sources, like the U.S. Small Business Administration, as we’ve previously reported. (UPDATED: See below)

Jim Tampakis, a man who runs a Red Hook-based ship boiler and pump repair shop gave up on trying to seek federal help entirely.

“I became discouraged,” Tampakis told the Times. “There was a feeling that businesses were getting the runaround.”

The problem facing business owners like Tampakis has led Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is currently running for Congress, to urge the city to ease the process.

“It’s imperative that more businesses have access to this type of funding so that they can get back on their feet,” Recchia told the Times.

Whether or not the businesses that are still closed can clear the bureaucratic red-tape and conquer their financial difficulties before the busy summer season starts remains to be seen.

UPDATE (May 2, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.): A previous version of this article noted in the segment providing the loan totals that business owners have had trouble with paperwork for these loans. An SBS representative called us this morning to note that the link we directed viewers to regarded the U.S. Small Business Administration loan rates, which, at the time, was below 30 percent. The SBS rep said the numbers in this article, which are for SBS, actually reflected a much higher approval rate than SBA, at a rate of 88 to 90 percent. We regret any confusion caused by the link, and have separated it out from the paragraph and tweaked the language to more accurately portray the situation.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Local mariners have something to be happy about this New Year: the Department of Environmental Protection reversed course on plans to destroy a 78-year-old navigational aid between Manhattan Beach and Breezy Point that mariners say makes them safer and shows them the way home when gizmos can’t.

According to documents released under a Freedom of Information Law request filed by Sheepshead Bites, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection decided to leave a wastewater diffuser pipe that locals affectionately refer to as the “roundhouse” after sailors and other mariners objected to its removal.

“Comments received questioned whether it would be more advantageous to leave the existing outlet chamber in place,” DEP reps wrote to partnering agencies in a September 2012 letter. “If kept, it could serve as an underwater fish habitat and provide opportunity for sea birds to perch.”

It wasn’t just the environmentalists that the DEP sought to please; the agency determined the now defunct roundhouse served a crucial purpose for navigation, and as a marker for underwater infrastructure that could damage vessels.

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Local businesses don’t seem to be benefiting from government subsidized loans for Sandy recovery.

More than $1 million in loans has been distributed to only 19 local businesses in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, suggesting that few businesses are benefiting from the subsidized loan programs offered by the federal and city governments.

According to numbers provided to Sheepshead Bites by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and the New York City Small Business Services (SBS), as of late last week, $1,083,100 government subsidized loans went to business in zip codes 11229 and 11235, an area that includes Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Brighton Beach and Plumb Beach – some of the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.

From the SBA, two loans were given out in 11229, totaling $311,400. Seven were approved in 11235, totaling $521,700.

From the SBS, 10 loans have been approved in Sheepshead Bay totaling $250,000.

SBS loans offered by the city max out at $25,000, but only carry a one percent interest rate and are to be repaid in two years. It’s meant to serve as a stop-gap measure to provide quick cash flow and allow local businesses to get up and running again.

Business owners who need more capital are then directed to the federal SBA, which carries higher interest rates – starting at four percent – but also dole out larger sums of cash and stretch out for as long as 30 years. Locally, the nine SBA loans average out to just over $119,000.

And while only nine SBA loans were given out locally, many more are still going through the application process, the SBA noted.

“So far we’ve issued more than 8,300 business applications in Kings County, but we’ve only received 480 back,” said Andre Ledgister, a public affairs specialist at SBA. “Why is that?  It can be a variety of reasons.  Some people are still filling out applications because of loss of important documents, fear about loans, inaccessibility to documents, etc.”

While businesses aren’t benefiting as much as they could be from the loans, homeowners in the two zip codes seem to be doing better. Ledgister said 127 homeowners in 11229 and 11235 have obtained $5,443,600 in SBA loans.

The following is a press release from Borough President Marty Markowitz:

On Thursday, July 12, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz presented a proclamation to Coney Island resident Lawrence Bowers prior to the Seaside Summer Concert Series, honoring him for rescuing a man and child off Coney Island this summer.

At the time he performed the acts of heroism in two separate incidents, Bowers was an unemployed father of six. His bravery caught the eye of NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Rob Walsh, who interceded and helped Bowers land a job with Atlantic Maintenance Services, which provides sanitation services to the area overseen by the Fulton Mall Improvement Association.

Commissioner Walsh was on hand as BP Markowitz presented the following proclamation:

Whereas, all of Brooklyn joins in spirit alongside family and friends to honor and commemorate the inspirational valor of Lawrence Bowers, a proud Brooklynite and resident of Coney Island who truly exemplifies the very best of Brooklyn, since his quick decision to take action saved the lives of others, demonstrating tremendous heroism not once, but twice, as he dived into the water to rescue a man and boy from the Atlantic Ocean; and

Whereas, on behalf of all Brooklynites, I salute and commend Lawrence Bowers, a father of six, for his valiant and courageous feat, I wish him all the best for the future, I congratulate him as he is duly and most justifiably paid tribute by his peers, and I thank him for his efforts in saving another from an unthinkable tragedy, as his unforgettable and exemplary acts of heroism will bolster our resolve to render good whenever and wherever we can, helping to make Brooklyn a better place to live, work, and raise a family;

Now, therefore, I, Marty Markowitz, President of the Borough of Brooklyn, do hereby proclaim Thursday, July 12, 2012, Lawrence Bowers Recognition Day, in Brooklyn, USA.