Jan. 18, 2018 By Tara Law
Two New York City non-profits have started a new emergency loan program that aims to help small businesses recover from the Jan. 12 water main break in Jackson Heights.
Several businesses were flooded last Friday when a water main broke at Broadway and 74th Street at around 5:30 a.m. Water gushed into the street for almost two hours damaging stores and disrupting subway service.
The program will offer businesses in the affected area up to $30,000 in low-interest loans, under the so-called Elmhurst/Jackson Heights Emergency Loan Program.
Businesses located from the south side of Roosevelt Avenue to the north side of 41st Avenue, and from the east side of 73rd Street to the west side of 75th Street are eligible.
Businesses can potentially receive their loans in a week or less.
The program has been set up by the non-profit Asian Americans for Equality, which provides housing, social services and community development, and Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, a community development financial institution that provides low-interest small business loans and entrepreneurial training programs.
Seven businesses in the area were flooded, according to Zach Bommer, director of program administration at Asian Americans for Equality. Korean restaurant Chung Ki Wa at 40-06 74th St. and Pronto Smoke Shop at 40-04 74th St. endured significant damage, he added
Many businesses lost customers since the road was closed to clean up the mess.
All the businesses, however, in the affected area have reopened, but many businesses endured damage or lost business as result of the flooding and the city’s work after to fix it.
“Small businesses often struggle to cover [the cost of] repairs,” Bommer said. Many find it more difficult to obtain loans because they are unaware of what’s available and face language barriers.
“Many business owners in my district are recent immigrants struggling to make ends meet,” Council member Daniel Dromm said in a statement. “Store closure, flood damage, and loss of vehicular and foot traffic has resulted in thousands of dollars in repair costs and lost revenue for some businesses.”
“The goal is to make this as small a bump in the road as possible,” Bommer said.
The nonprofits have stationed counselors at Dromm’s office at 37-32 75th St to provide technical assistance.
Counseling is available in Chinese, Spanish and Korean. Dedicated office hours are are available on Friday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.