Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Renaissance Economic Development Corp. (REDC) announced the creation of the FLUSHING DOWNTOWN FIRE EMERGENCY LOAN PROGRAM, a $1 million loan fund to assist small businesses impacted by the devastating fire at East Commercial Plaza, 40-10 Main St., on March 17.
The early morning five-alarm fire gutted the commercial building, affecting more than 30 small businesses. REDC, an affiliate of AAFE, acted swiftly, establishing a fund just four days after the fire, to help the businesses relocate and get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“I want to thank AAFE for setting up this fund so quickly after the tragic fire to provide relief to these small businesses,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “This was a truly devastating event and we are going to have to utilize all the resources at our disposal, whether they come from city agencies or nonprofits like AAFE, to help these small businesses recover. The Flushing Downtown Fire Emergency Loan Program is an important part of that recovery.”
“For immigrant small businesses, the impacts of a fire can be catastrophic at any time, let alone when they’re struggling to emerge from a pandemic,” said Jennifer Sun, co-executive director of AAFE. “REDC has a long track record as a first responder for our small businesses in times of crisis both in Flushing and throughout New York City. We are committed to getting help to these businesses as quickly as possible to help ensure their survival.”
“The moment we heard about this disaster impacting so many small businesses in Flushing, we knew an Emergency Loan Program had to be created immediately,” said Jessie Lee, managing director of REDC. “Our staff is standing by today in Downtown Flushing to begin working with small business owners and we will be here every day until each and every small business in need of assistance receives it.”
The loan fund is available to businesses displaced by the fire as well as those impacted by emergency operations and street closures in the immediate area. Businesses must be able to show economic losses as a result of the fire and be located in the following areas: along Main Street from 40th Road to Roosevelt Avenue, along Roosevelt Avenue from Main Street to Prince Street and along 40th Road from Main Street to Prince Street. Loans are available up to $50,000 with a fixed interest rate of 2% (see attached flyers in English, Chinese and Korean for details about loan terms and eligibility requirements).
REDC has been serving immigrant communities in New York City for 25 years, offering low-interest loans, grants, training and an array of resources to low- and middle-income entrepreneurs who often struggle to obtain financing from traditional sources. Last year alone, REDC provided $6 million in loans and grants to help small businesses survive the pandemic.
AAFE, founded 48 years ago, offers comprehensive community programs in Flushing, including access to government social programs and affordable health care, legal services through a partnership with the Asian American Bar Association, college access and after school programming for immigrant high school students, digital literacy and other adult education programs.