Small businesses in the Bronx get just 1 percent of COVID-19 relief loans

Bronx Councilmen Ritchie Torres, Mark Gjonaj and Andrew Cohen all had COVID legislation passed today.
File photo

As many Bronx businesses continue struggling financially during COVID-19, it seems they won’t be getting any help from the city.

As of April 26, 1 percent of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) COVID-19 loans were given to Bronx businesses, compared to 66 percent distributed to Manhattan and 3 percent of all SBS grants were given to the Bronx, compared to 53 percent in Manhattan.

A total of $80,000 in loans were awarded to the borough, leaving elected officials and community leaders displeased.

Michael Brady, executive director of the Third Avenue BID, expressed his frustrations on Twitter.

“When will the redlining of our borough end?” Brady said. “Haven’t we suffered enough from disenfranchisement. The positive cases, the mortality rates, and now this shameful business news. When will it end?”

Councilman Mark Gjonaj, the chair of the small business committee, shared his sentiments.

“With $39 million to 200K business NYC Mayor is telling small businesses to go to hell and the Bronx to drop dead!” Gjonaj said on Twitter. “We know many of our #smallbusinesses are in the #outerboroughs yet we are seeing a huge #disparity as the #CityofTwoTales disclosed that only 1% of @NYC_SBS Covid-19 small business aid has gone to the Bronx.”

Reginald Johnson, chief of staff for Gjonaj, said the next steps are for the nine Bronx council members to write a letter to SBS demanding an explanation.

However, an SBS spokesman explained that while they did outreach citywide for these programs, only 4.3 percent of the applicants came from the Bronx.

“SBS stood up two programs in record time to assist small businesses as they faced the challenges related to this pandemic,” the spokesman said. “We have worked hard to promote our services in all five boroughs as we seek to provide aid. We are working around the clock to process applications and get entrepreneurs the funds they desperately need.”

On March 27, SBS unveiled a loan and a grant for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Small Business Continuity Loan Fund

This investment was a public-private partnership between Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Tapestry, Inc.’s Coach Foundation and Pursuit to provide loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25 percent or more were eligible for loans of up to $75,000 to help retain employees and ensure business continuity. The loan could be deployed for a variety of uses, including working capital, inventory or other investments.

As part of the application, businesses were required to demonstrate a revenue decrease by providing documentation such as point-of-sales reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings, 2019 tax returns or CPA-certified profit and loss statements.

Employee Retention Grant Program

  • You own or are authorized to represent a small business that employs one to four employees;
  • You have been in operation for at least six months;
  • Your business has experienced a revenue decrease of at least 25 percent following the impact of COVID-19;
  • Upon receipt of the grant funds, you commit to keeping your one to four employees employed at your business.

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