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AAFE and Partnership for NYC Fund announce post-Sandy grant program

Asian Americans for Equality and the Partnership for New York City Fund have announced a new program making $200,000 in grants available for New York City businesses south of Canal Street impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The grant program – paid for by the Partnership Fund – will be administered by the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, an affiliate of AAFE. The grants will provide additional financial assistance for local businesses that receive low-interest loans through Renaissance’s Emergency Loan Program.

“Businesses in our vibrant Asian American communities in Lower Manhattan are still trying to get back on their feet after Superstorm Sandy’s disastrous impact to their infrastructure, customers and employees,” said Maria Gotsch, President & CEO of the Partnership Fund. “After 9/11, businesses that were able to recover with the help of grants from the Partnership Fund paid back those grants so those funds could be used to help other small businesses in Lower Manhattan. Today, in this difficult time post-Superstorm Sandy, we are using those funds to help our fellow New Yorkers rebuild in some of our hardest hit communities.”

In November, the Partnership Fund joined the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to help create a $5.5 million matching grant program for small businesses. Those funds, as well as the new resources now being made available, have been allocated from grants that were originally received from The September 11th Fund—created by The United Way of New York City and The New York Community Trust. Many of the 9/11 grant recipients were able to get back on their feet and repay their grants, meaning that funds are now available to help a new group of struggling businesses in Lower Manhattan.

“Small businesses play a vital role in Lower Manhattan and across the city.  We have a responsibility to make sure they get back on their feet as soon as possible,” said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of AAFE.  “AAFE is appreciative to the Partnership Fund for providing this generous grant that will go directly to local small businesses impacted by the storm south of Canal Street.  This grant will supplement our existing emergency loan program.”

Immediately after the storm hit, Renaissance announced the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Initiative.  The initiative provides loans up to $30,000 for small businesses that need immediate working capital for repairs, inventory replacement and cash flow to stay in business.   Loan checks were being cut as soon as two days after the disaster. So far, 160 businesses have received over  $3 million from Renaissance. Clients have been coming from all over the city, particulary Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

AAFE also opened up a Small Business Emergency Help Center in partnership with One Flushing in Queens, offering one-on-one services in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, and Japanese.  Since opening in November, the center has served over a 150 walk-in clients with FEMA registrations, SBA business loan applications and with general technical assistance.  AAFE has organized outreach through ethnic media, canvassing local businesses, and operating a multilingual helpline.

The Partnership Fund and AAFE were joined today by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has been a vocal advocate for the recovery needs of small businesses in Lower Manhattan post-Superstorm Sandy.

“Small businesses in Lower Manhattan suffered enormously following Hurricane Sandy, as days and weeks without electricity and heat spoiled inventory, kept customers away and forced so many to close their doors,” said Speaker Silver. “Small business owners lost significant revenue and many are still in dire need. It is critical for our local economy to help get these businesses back on their feet by providing these essential loans. I want to thank Asian Americans for Equality for the outstanding work it is doing on this program and for all that it does for our community. I want to thank the Partnership for New York City for this wonderful grant program and for its strong advocacy for our city’s businesses and its economy.”

New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York City Councilmember Margaret Chin have also been hard at work to ensure that businesses in Lower Manhattan have the resources necessary to recover.

“The programs that we need to fully recover did not all exist when Sandy hit. The Partnership’s and AAFE’s new grant program is another step toward the recovery Chinatown’s small businesses — and our entire community — need,” Senator Daniel Squadron said. “Now, we must continue to work toward the city, state, and federal programs that are necessary to getting our businesses and neighborhoods fully back up, running, and thriving.”

“I am so pleased that these grants will be made available to small businesses that are struggling in the wake of hurricane Sandy,” Chin said. “One thing we have heard over and over again, is that small businesses do not want loans: they want grants. These grants will be available to businesses that have taken out Renaissance Economic Development Corp. loans, a community development financial lending institution. This is important because, until now, the only grants available were through the Mayor’s Emergency Loan Program which many smaller, minority-owned businesses may not qualify for. Lenders who are based in our community have the language capacity, and the understanding, to give loans to businesses that otherwise many not qualify for traditional loans. There is no reason why these individuals, too, should not qualify for grants. This is the right thing to do and I am very thankful to the Partnership for New York City for making this happen.”

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