As NYC prepares to restart the economy, many might wonder who will still be standing in a few weeks after being shuttered for three months due to COVID-19.
One elected official sensed the dire situation and has jumped to action. On June 8, Councilman Mark Gjonaj, chair of the small business committee, along with 38 other elected officials, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio requesting $500 million for small businesses.
Reggie Johnson, Gjonaj’s chief of staff, explained that the city’s budget is $90 billion, so it can easily afford to help the small businesses.
“There are well over 200,000 small businesses in our city and $500 million only represents a fraction of the city’s $90 billion fiscal budget,” the letter states.
The letter outlines how even before COVID-19, small businesses were struggling to stay afloat. Some of the issues that small businesses dealt with included the high cost of commercial rents, which are $80 per square foot on average, growing property taxes and rising water and sewer rates among other obligations.
A few weeks ago, the city’s department of Small Business Services allocated $49 million to small business, but the pols stressed that is not enough.
In fact, Former SBS Commissioner, Gregg Bishop, admitted during a recent budget hearing that the city’s grant and loan programs were not dispersed evenly across all boroughs. For instance, around the time of the hearing, 66 percent of all COVID-19-related loan money had gone to businesses in Manhattan and only 1 percent of those funds went to Bronx businesses.
“Helping small businesses recover and weather this crisis should not be seen as an expenditure but rather as an investment,” the letter stated. “Local businesses provide jobs and pay into the city’s tax base which in turns funds the programs and services that New Yorkers depend on. Mayor de Blasio, you have an opportunity to save New York City’s small business from disappearing forever, but you and your administration must act now before it’s too late.”