New York, NY, September 1, 2010- The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Daniel Squadron today announced a significant expansion of the existing Small Firm Assistance Program to provide additional relief to small retail businesses affected by publicly-funded construction projects in Lower Manhattan.
Officials announced the following program expansions:
- $1 million has been added to cover the program’s expansion, bringing overall funding to $6 million.
- The Small Firm Assistance Program, which was scheduled to sunset at the end of this year, will be extended by five years and sunset on December 31, 2015.
- The max allowance per grant has increased from $25,000 to $35,000, for small businesses on streets where construction has been underway for at least thirteen months.
- The Small Firm Assistance Program was previously limited to small businesses at ground level on streets impacted by publicly-funded construction. The program will now be open to all small retail businesses on streets impacted by publicly-funded construction, allowing businesses located on second floors and above to be eligible.
“Small businesses are at the heart of New York’s economy,” said Governor David A. Paterson. “The expansion of the Small Firm Assistance Program will provide aid to those small retail businesses who have suffered revenue losses during the revitalization of Lower Manhattan. These are the small businesses that have remained committed to Lower Manhattan, despite the enormous challenges of rebuilding after September 11th. As we near the 9th anniversary of September 11th we are reminded more than ever of the strength and resilience of New Yorkers. I’d like to commend LMDC, NYC EDC, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Daniel Squadron for their commitment to supporting our small businesses and dedication to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan.”
The changes to the program will take effect immediately and surveys indicate as many as 130 businesses could be eligible under the new rules. Currently, LMDC provides grants of up to $25,000 to small retail businesses that have suffered business disruption due to publicly-funded construction projects. Firms may be awarded grants as follows: 1) $5 per square foot of owned, leased or rented space or 2) the amount of realized economic loss – whichever is less. The eligibility period for the program began in July, 2007.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation worked closely with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, Community Board 1, and the Alliance for Downtown New York as it gathered valuable community input before finalizing the new guidelines. In March, Senator Squadron wrote to LMDC to advocate for the program's expansion, including an extension of the sunset date and new eligibility for non-street-level businesses.
Avi Schick, Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said: “The rebuilding of Lower Manhattan has made it tough for small business owners who have seen foot traffic diverted because of construction-related street closures. We have an obligation to provide whatever relief we can. By expanding eligibility and extending the program for another five years, we will be able to assist many more businesses, helping to preserve Downtown’s retail sector.”
NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said: “The expansion of the Small Firm Assistance Program is great news for small businesses in Lower Manhattan. As we continue to build on our progress in this increasingly vibrant neighborhood, we want to ensure that local retail businesses can not only survive but thrive, and the expansion of the program will help us do it.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said: “I am so pleased that LMDC will be expanding the Lower Manhattan Small Firm Assistance Program. Nine years after the attacks of 9/11, many Lower Manhattan small businesses have continued to struggle as a result of ongoing construction projects in our efforts to rebuild downtown. These small businesses are the backbone of Downtown's revitalization, and our ongoing support is critical to the success of this area's resurgence.”
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver said: “Construction in Lower Manhattan is an encouraging sign of the progress we are making as we rebuild. At the same time, it is imperative that small business owners, who are the lifeblood of our Downtown economy, receive fair compensation for the disruption that comes with that progress. That is why it has been a priority of mine that we expand this program so that all small businesses are treated fairly and given the help that they need. The changes we are announcing today will strengthen our neighborhoods by protecting the businesses that serve the residents, visitors and workers of Lower Manhattan.”
State Senator Daniel Squadron said: “Small businesses play a vital role in Lower Manhattan, and they are hanging in despite real challenges. Expanding the Small Firm Assistance Program is an important way to support local retailers in Lower Manhattan who face disruptions to their businesses. That’s why I pushed for this program expansion in March, and am pleased that it is now being enacted. I appreciate the support of LMDC, Downtown Alliance, CB1, EDC, and Assembly Speaker Silver for this initiative, which will help small businesses continue to thrive and contribute to Lower Manhattan’s culture and economy.”
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said: “I'm gratified that LMDC has responded to the entreaties of all the elected officials and the Community Board to redress the financial burdens placed on small businesses in Lower Manhattan by ongoing disruptions.”
Empire State Development Executive Director Peter W. Davidson said: “Small businesses in Lower Manhattan have endured the lasting challenges borne by the neighborhood at large and we are very pleased to offer these funds to bolster both the spirit and the bottom line of these critical economic engines. ESD commends the work of Governor Paterson, LMDC, NYCEDC, Speaker Silver and Senator Squadron to increase the depth and breadth of this important program and looks forward to contributing to the revitalization and continued growth of Lower Manhattan.”
NYC Councilmember Margaret Chin said: “The Small Firm Assistance Program has been a valuable resource for local businesses affected by 9/11 related construction. By expanding and extending this program, LMDC will be able to increase their support to the small businesses that are the building blocks of Lower Manhattan. I want to thank LMDC, EDC, Speaker Silver and Senator Squadron for their advocacy on this issue, and I look forward to continuing to support small businesses in the community.”
Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York, said: “Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver, Senator Squadron and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for acknowledging the hardship that $30 billion in post-9/11 construction has created for Lower Manhattan’s small businesses and for doing something about it. As we’ve heard from retailers and service providers, expanding and extending the Small Firm Assistance Program will make a real difference. Thanks, too, to Community Board 1 for advocacy on this important economic development issue.”
Julie Menin, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1, said: “One of the main complaints I hear from businesses adjacent to the myriad construction projects Downtown is the deleterious effect of the construction on their business. By expanding the eligibility criteria and scope of the program, LMDC will help the many small businesses Downtown that serve as a vital backbone of our Lower Manhattan economy.”
On Wednesday, LMDC staff, Lower Manhattan elected officials, and government and community leaders toured Red Line Studios and Tropp Printing, two small businesses who are now eligible under the new rules. Red Line is a full service production company and Tropp provides printing services. Located on the third and fourth floor of an office building in Lower Manhattan, both companies were unable to apply for grants because they were not ground-floor businesses. Both will now apply under the new guidelines.
To date, LMDC has awarded 250 Small Firm Assistance Program grants to 150 small businesses in Lower Manhattan - totaling $3.1 million. Eligible small businesses must be located below Canal Street, and employ fewer than 50 individuals. For further details on eligibility and to download an application please consult the LMDC website at http://renewnyc.com/ProjectsAndPrograms/small_firms.asp.
In July, 2009, LMDC also made two expansions to the program. Originally only businesses that were located on a block with a street/sidewalk closure were eligible. Under that expansion, small businesses within a 1 square block radius of a street/sidewalk closure became eligible for grants. That expansion more than doubled the number of eligible blocks from approximately 60 blocks to nearly 200 blocks. In addition, the amount each business could receive per square foot was increased from $2.50 to $5.00.