News

Issues and events that shape Long Island's economic and legislative landscape.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Business Recovery Help

There are a number of government, financial and legal resources out there for businesses struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Government

Nassau County has established a storm assistance program for small businesses. Eligible firms may receive up to $99,000 to be used toward recovery efforts through the Nassau IDA's Local Enterprise Assistance and Development Services Program. The program provides eligible small businesses with help through a sales tax exemption on any furniture, fixtures, equipment and material purchased for repair and reconstruction. For information, contact the Nassau County IDA at (516) 571-1745 or by email at Leads@nassauida.org.

Nassau County has created a website with information, links and contacts to help businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. Visit the website at http://www.nassaubackinbusiness.org/.

Suffolk County is offering recovery assistance through the Department of Labor and Department of Economic Development and Planning. The county is hosting Small Business Assistance Recovery Centers daily at labor department offices at the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and at the Suffolk County Department of Labor in Riverhead from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information, call (631) 853-6600.

Nassau County has set up a Mega Hurricane Sandy Recovery Center at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. The center includes a FEMA Registration Center, New York State Department of Financial Services insurance resource center, Red Cross food and drink distribution center and a free mobile laundry facility.

The Federal Emergency Management Authority''s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program uses governmental funds to buy waterlogged properties at pre-storm market value from the owners, who can then take the money to relocate to a less flood-prone area. Primarily designed for homeowners, FEMA has made hazard mitigation grants available to business owners. Contact FEMA at 1 (800) 621-3362 or apply for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or via smartphone at m.fema.gov.

The New York State Department of Labor is looking for workers to clean up damage on Long Island and in New York City caused by Hurricane Sandy. Hired laborers will receive $14.89 per hour, working 35 hours per week for up to six weeks. Employees can select where they prefer to work, including Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as New York City's five boroughs. Apply for the temporary work program on the New York State Department of Labor''s website.

New York state is looking to ascertain major impacts on manufacturers on Long Island. If you have been seriously impacted by flooding or other damage, please contact rzounek@lift.org or (631) 846-2732.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has set up a disaster assistance hotline at 1 (800) 659-2955. The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, up to $2 million. To be eligible for SBA assistance, businesses or nonprofits must have sustained physical or economic damage and be located in a disaster declared county. For application information, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/business-physical-disaster-loans or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Also visit www.sba.gov/sandy to learn more and apply.

The Stony Brook Small Business Development Center is available to help small business owners learn what SBA resources are available to help recovery after Hurricane Sandy and to help complete all the necessary forms. For information, call (631) 632-9837 or email sbdc@stonybrook.edu.

The Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College is hosting an Official SBA Disaster Recovery Center. An SBA Representative is available to process Disaster Loan Applications from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The SBDC also has business advisers at various locations to help businesses apply and complete SBA Disaster Assistance Applications. For information, go to www.Farmingdale.edu/SBDC or call (631) 420-2765.

The Huntington Small Business Resource and Recovery Center is hosting a free small business recovery workshop from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Huntington Town Hall, 100 Main Street, moderated by Councilman Mark Mayoka, CPA. The workshop will also feature a panel of business survival experts providing advice and assistance. Click here for more information.

The Town of Oyster Bay has extended the deadline for property owners to pay the first half of their school tax bill from Nov. 10 to Dec. 4 without penalty. While the town has extended the deadline, it is up to school districts to opt into the program. So far, only the Roslyn School District and North Shore School District have opted into the extension.

The State Liquor Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation have extended deadlines for permits, license renewals and payments. Businesses due for a liquor license renewal in October and November will receive a 60-day grace period after the expiration date; have until Dec. 1 to apply for New Year's Eve "all night permits" and can request to have temporary licenses extended for an additional 30 days. The DEC will waive fees and extend application deadlines for state permits for 30 days from Nov. 7.

Financial

The IRS is extending tax filing deadlines for individuals and businesses affected by Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Banks are waiving late fees on mortgages for 90 days, eliminating payments for 90 days and postponing foreclosures and evictions for 90 days. New York Community Bank, M&T Bank, Apple Savings Bank, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, Emigrant Savings Bank, Ridgewood Savings Bank and Hanover Community Bank are among the community banks providing relief. Contact your individual bank for specific details.

JPMorgan Chase also is waiving all mortgage-related fees and offering 90-day moratoriums on mortgage payments and temporarily suspending all foreclosure sales in FEMA designated zones. It is also offering up to $5 billion in incremental capital for lending to small and mid-size businesses directly affected by the storm to help them rebuild. Contact your local bank for details.

State-chartered banks in New York, including M&T Bank, Apple Savings, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, Emigrant Savings Bank and New York Community Bank have agreed to waive the following fees and penalties at least until Thursday, Nov. 15.

  • ATM fees
  • Late payment charges
  • Penalties for checks returned because of insufficient funds
  • Overdraft protection transfer fees
  • Penalties for early withdrawal of savings in circumstances in which the customer has a need for the funds resulting from the storm

Contact your individual bank for specific details regarding fee waivers.

Bethpage Federal Credit Union has a series of Hurricane Sandy relief loans available, including a storm emergency cash advance loan, which is an unsecured loan up to $25,000 with fixed rates starting at 6 percent APR and a three-month payment deferral. It can be a term loan or a line of credit. Call 1(800) 628-7070 or visit your local Bethpage branch for information.

NEFCU has a number of limited-time Hurricane Sandy loan programs for home and business owners, including the hurricane relief loan, which features a low fixed rate of 1 percent APR for the first year and an optional 90-day deferral of the first payment. After one year, the rate will revert to the prevailing rate on the day of the application, as low as 9.49 percent APR. For information about NEFCU loan programs or assistance with Hurricane Sandy recovery, call (516) 714-2928 or visit www.myNEFCU.org.

Gold Coast Bank is offering Hurricane Sandy relief loans of up to $100,000 for a period of 3 1/2 years, including paying only interest for six months. The loan comes with a 3.9 percent fixed rate for a $500 fee. For information, call (631) 233-8600.

Valley National Bank has made all of its standard loan programs, with higher loan limits, available to customers who need funds for repairs/rebuilding that require more than the Valley Family Assistance Loan offers. For information, contact 1 (800) 522-4100.

Wells Fargo has initiated an emergency personal loan program for customers in FEMA-designated disaster counties in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. These loans will be offered at favorable rates and will be underwritten using existing underwriting criteria. Wells Fargo customers who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy and need assistance should call 1 (800) TO-WELLS (1-800-869-3557).

TD Bank is providing immediate relief to customers impacted by waiving all late fees resulting from Hurricane Sandy on lending products. It also is providing expedited decisions and delivery within 72 hours on all credit card decisions up to $25,000, and waiving any late fees incurred by customers impacted by the storm.

Deutsche Bank has committed $1 million in zero interest financing to help homeowners and small business owners in disadvantaged neighborhoods make critical repairs to their properties.

Financial institutions seeking guidance for assisting customers affected by Sandy should contact the Department of Financial Services‘ Albany office at (518) 473-6160.

Legal

The Nassau County Bar Association is offering a series of free Superstorm Sandy Legal Consultation Clinics for Nassau residents on Monday, Nov. 19 and Monday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. to be held at the bar headquarters in Mineola. Contact the Nassau Bar at (516) 747-4070.

The Touro Law Center and Suffolk County Bar Association have created a Hurricane Emergency Assistance and Referral Team to provide referrals, assistance and legal advice for small businesses. For information, call (631) 761-7198 or email tlcheart@tourolaw. The telephone hotline will be answered live Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Voicemail messages can be left anytime.

Insurance

The Department of Financial Services disaster hotline is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anyone seeking assistance. Call 1 (800) 339-1759 with insurance-related storm questions and to file complaints. Complaints against insurers can also file complaints online at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.

The state's Department of Financial Services has instructed insurers to accept property owners' documentation of losses, including photos and videos. All of those documenting damage should take individual color photos and video of the damaged property with date/time stamps, and take samples of items like carpeting, furniture upholstery and window treatments where quality will be a claims factor. The state has also imposed a 30-day moratorium on cancelling or terminating homeowners' and small business owners' insurance policies in storm-stricken areas for any reason, including nonpayment of premiums.

Office space

Fishbat, a digital marketing firm located near Long Island MacArthur Airport, is offering free office space for area businesses knocked out by the storm. For information, contact Fishbat's John Romeo at johnr@fishbat.com or call (855) 347-4228.

Totus Business Center at 105 Maxess Road is leasing furnished spaces equipped for telecommunications that can accommodate from 10 to 60 employees and can be occupied within 24 hours. The offices, pre-wired for telephone and Internet with fiber optics, also include use of a receptionist and call forwarding. Leases are available on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Contact Totus at (631) 574-4400.

FalconStor Software in Melville is offering office space for those that need it. FalconStor's offices, located at 2 Huntington Quadrangle, Suite 2S01, are equipped with phone, fax and Internet. Contact FalconStor at (631) 773-5813.

Grasshopper, a virtual phone system geared toward entrepreneurs, is offering businesses affected by Sandy a free three-month Grasshopper account to help keep your business open and connected.

Temporary office provider Champion Office Suites is waiving fees to help businesses recovering from Hurricane Sandy. The firm is providing clients with free hour-long temporary office access at its Garden City location for anyone who needs to warm up, use the Internet and charge devices. In addition, clients can have their mail forwarded rather than having to pick it up to save on gas and the firm is offering free voicemail and email services to any clients affected by cell phone outages. For information, contact Roger Kahn at (888) 275-5055, rogerk@virtualofficeny.com or visit www.championofficesuites.com.

Small Business

Layne Davlin, owner of Georgia-based Einstein HR, is making his firm available to help small businesses on Long Island with a number of issues. For no cost, the firm is offering to help business owners who may have lost paperwork and documents essential to tax processing; to help re-establish accurate recordkeeping of employee files; to work with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with issues regarding immigration status and benefits; and to keep track of what tax credits may be available to business owners stemming from the Affordable Care Act. Contact Davlin at layne@einsteinhr.com, (770) 962-1700 or 1 (877) 687-3622.

A forum is being held from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack, to provide disaster relief information for small businesses. State, city and federal disaster relief agencies will be available to assist businesses to fill out disaster relief applications and speak to counselors. Attend to find out how may be eligible for up to $2 million in SBA or FEMA loans. To RSVP, call (718) 723-5412.

Energy

Continue to report power outages to the Long Island Power Authority online at or call 1 (800) 490-0075 or (631) 755-6900. Stay up to date with LIPA outage information via its storm center or on its Facebook page or Twitter feed.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set up a hotline for gas stations with gas but no power or power but no gas. Call 1 (866) 402-3775.

Food

The Fresh Diet is offering discounted meals for small business owners in the tri-state area. Use the promo code ‘Sandy‘ to get 3 meals and snacks delivered for $24.99 (usually $44.99).

Additional information

The Better Business Bureau has launched a resource center on its website to help businesses and nonprofits affected by Hurricane Sandy. The information covers a wide array of topics on recovering from the storm including government resources, shelters, safety and health, nonprofit response efforts, insurance issues, legal and financial information and recovery resources for businesses and nonprofits.

Empire Government Strategies has created a New York Disaster Aid Toolkit, detailing key financial programs available from federal, state, city and local agencies. Download it here.

Check out this list compiled by Forbes, which has additional business-related resources.