Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 15, 2012

Area banks setting up Sandy fund

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The New York Bankers Association and the New York Business Development Corp. have started a $10 million small business emergency loan fund to provide immediate financial assistance for businesses impacted by Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Under the fund, businesses will be able to apply for loans of up to $25,000 immediately by going to www.esd.ny.gov or calling 1-855-NYS-SANDY. First Niagara Bank is participating in the program.

“New York’s banks are stepping up to help our state’s small businesses rebuild and restart in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” Cuomo said. “This loan program will help those businesses who were hit hardest by the storm get the resources they need to repair immediately, allowing them to continue to provide jobs to our communities and strength to our economy. I applaud the New York Bankers Association for providing relief to these businesses and joining the growing efforts by the private sector to help all New Yorkers recover.”

The emergency loan program will provide low-interest loans of up to $25,000 to small businesses in an expedited manner to help in the recovery efforts. The New York Business Development Corp. will manage and operate the loan program in coordination with Empire State Development.

Through the program, small businesses in affected communities will be eligible to receive loans of up to $25,000 that will be interest and payment-free for the first six months and then at one percent interest for the following two years. Eligible businesses can use the funding to cover the costs of replacement and repairs to facilities or equipment or as working capital needed to restart or continue business operations.

The emergency loan program is for independently owned and operated businesses that have fewer than 100 employees and are located in the counties designated as disaster areas: Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and the five boroughs of New York City.

“The banking industry understands that the quick recovery of small businesses will be key to the rebuilding of our neighborhoods. We are eager to help in this critical effort so that New York’s small business owners can get back to work, and back to providing goods and services to their communities,” said Michael P. Smith, New York Bankers Association CEO.

To be eligible to receive funding through the program, companies must have filed 2011 business tax returns and have experienced direct damage or economic hardship as a result of Sandy. Applications will be available within the week and businesses are expected to begin to receive funding five to seven days after submitting a complete application and the required documentation.

“Making it easy for small businesses to do great things is what we’re about every day at First Niagara. Therefore, we’re very proud to partner with the governor and our fellow bankers to ensure that local businesses are able to rebuild and recover even faster from the devastation of this storm,” said John R. Koelmel, First Niagara president and CEO.