As Long Island began the first phase of reopening on Wednesday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced the “Boost Nassau” Loan Program, which will secure up to $10 million in loans for the county’s small businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a news release sent out by the county, the program was made possible by a $500,000 investment by Nassau County and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corporation.
“Small businesses employ our neighbors, family, and friends and are the heart of our once vibrant downtown communities – now struggling to stay alive,” Curran said. “We will pursue a robust outreach strategy through our minority outreach offices, local chambers, and partners to ensure businesses in hard-hit communities that missed out on other programs can finally get the relief they need.”
The program is part of the state’s “NY Forward Loan Fund,” a program that targets the state’s small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, nonprofits and “small landlords” that have seen a loss of rental income. According to state figures, 90 percent of all businesses throughout New York have 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
Businesses can obtain up to $100,000 in loans with less than $3 million in annual revenue. Nonprofits have a 2 percent interest rate on the loan, while small businesses have a 3 percent rate, officials said.
Businesses or entities that obtained funding through the Paycheck Protection Program or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan are not eligible for the state’s lending program, officials said.
Loans must be paid back over five years, with interest-only payments for the first year, and principal and interest payments for the remainder of the reimbursement period. The loan, according to officials, can be used for reopening expenses such as redesigning or layout changes to comply with the state’s social distancing mandates, rent, property taxes or operating costs.
Richie Kessel, chairman of the Nassau Industrial Development Agency, had been suggesting that the agency use some of the fund balance to provide loans to small businesses prior to the announcement made by Curran.
“This program will help small businesses in Nassau County recover from this economic downturn and aid in their reopening,” Kessel said. “These loans will breathe new life into our downtowns and help bring back and boost Nassau County’s recovery.”
The program, according to officials, will also provide financial aid to minority/women-owned business enterprises.
“The Boost Nassau Small Business Loan Program will provide much-needed capital to small-business owners in Nassau County and help in the county’s recovery efforts to strengthen the local economy,” Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce President Phil Andrews said.
As of Tuesday, 39,907 people in Nassau County had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to statistics provided by the county’s Department of Health. Of that total, 2,103 had died, and 410 were hospitalized as a result of the virus.
Despite almost 40,000 residents testing positive for the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced over the weekend that the county, and all of Long Island, could begin the first phase of reopening on Wednesday.
The first phase of the plan, according to Cuomo, will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk, so long as the health trends continue to meet the guidelines.
Curran touted the significance that the first phase of reopening will have on Long Island.
“Phase one for us means a lot of people will be coming back to work,” said Curran. “Seventeen percent of total jobs on Long Island are in construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade.”
Phase two, Cuomo said, is a more in-depth look at each business on a case-by-case analysis, and finding the best ways to reopen. He said officials will determine a business’ essential service to the community, the risks of reopening and the importance of its reopening. Phase two would include retail, professional and administrative services, and real estate.
Phase three includes dine-in restaurants, and phase four would include large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events.
Cuomo said business owners must analyze the precautions and safeguards that will need to be potentially addressed for each individual business.
Two weeks must pass before the next part of the plan is implemented, Cuomo said, in order to effectively monitor its impact. He said two weeks covers the incubation period of the virus.
No more than 50 percent of the maximum capacity of a workplace can be used, protective equipment such as masks and gloves must be worn, and social distancing must be adhered to for all phases, according to the guidelines.