By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano briefed the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce and member business owners Thursday, on various relief programs available to small businesses damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Included in his speech were details of New York State’s grant program for Sandy affected businesses; as well as various assistance programs offered by the federal government, National Grid, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, and the Small Business Administration.
Mangano told the packed meeting that small businesses, including “Mom and Pop Shops in our downtowns,” make up 60 percent of the job opportunities. “Here in New York, more than 98% of businesses are considered small businesses — companies with fewer than 100 employees — and they hire more than half of all workers in the state,” he said.
In October, Mangano announced the creation of a new small and mid-size business relief program – entitled Nassau “LEADS” – Local Enterprise Assistance & Development Services.
The LEADS program provides direct financial assistance and developmental services to Nassau County’s small and mid-size business community. And, it serves as a clearinghouse for all Nassau County, IDA, and State and Federal incentive and relief programs.
“One of the main goals of the LEADS program is to create one-stop-shopping for economic development resources – a single entity providing clear direction,” Mangano said.
He added that businesses can call their dedicated hotline or email, and within 24 hours, an experienced economic development professional will get back to you with answers and information.
Additionally, business owners may be eligible for sales and use tax exemptions through the Nassau IDA. This program provides significant savings to applicants – a savings of 8.625% for sales tax for furniture, fixtures and other capital investments and renovations.
Nassau LEADS also helps steer local businesses through the sometimes “treacherous” approval, zoning and permitting process with neighboring municipalities, Mangano said.
“From licensing, to energy incentives, to becoming a Nassau County vendor, we are here to LEAD business owners down the path to success,” he said.
Mangano acknowledged that businesses were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy. To support them in recovering from storm damage, he opened a Nassau County Business Recovery Center that has launched a website to support its activities, which includes a 24-hour hotline.
The website, www.nassaubackinbusiness.org includes information, contacts and online links for small and medium-sized businesses in need of assistance navigating federal and state disaster relief offerings.
To date, the Business Recovery Center has helped over 500 small businesses in recovering from the superstorm.
And, the Nassau County IDA has given tax assistance to over 120 businesses for a savings of over 3 million dollars in sales taxes.
The Nassau Business Recovery Task Force joined forces with the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University to establish a legal clinic that offers free assistance to local small businesses recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Mangano encouraged small business owners interested in these legal services, including nonprofits and community groups, to contact Kathleen Conti at 516-463-5934 or Kathleen.A.Conti@hofstra.edu for further information or to apply.
Another funding stream comes from the New York Bankers Association and the New York Business Development Corporation, which have agreed to establish a $10 million small business emergency loan fund to provide immediate financial assistance for businesses impacted by Storm Sandy.
Under that fund, which Mangano worked closely with Gov Cuomo to establish, businesses can apply for low-interest loans of up to $25,000 immediately by going to http://www.esd.ny.gov/StormRecovery.asp or calling 1-855-NYS-SANDY.
Additionally, the New York State Small Business Development Center has set up a number of temporary locations and is working with the SBA to assist businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The state grant program, administered by Nassau County, is expected to assist business owners impacted by Superstorm Sandy, with grants of up to $50,000 to $100,000.
While funds must still be approved by the United States Congress, Mangano urged all business owners who suffered storm damage, to submit a pre-application by visiting www.NYSANDYHELP.NY.gov.
National Grid is also offering an important program to its customers – the Emergency Economic and Community Development program. This program provides funding to customers that have sustained storm damage and may have lost gas service due to the storm and flooding. To determine program eligibility, and for additional information, call National Grid at 855-496-9359.
“We are doing everything we can to help small businesses – which are the backbone of our economy – rebuild and stay in Nassau County,” Mangano said. “Recovery will remain at the heart and soul of this Administration because without it the county fails in its obligation to every resident, every taxpayer and every family.”