NJ Small Biz Owners Begging For Sandy Grants [POLL/AUDIO]
President Barack Obama is requesting $60 billion from congress for super-storm Sandy recovery efforts in New Jersey and New York.
If approved, $2 billion of that could be used for small business grants. Business community leaders testifying before an Assembly panel say that $2 billion is not going to cut it.
A lot of small business owners took out loans to make it through the recession and if they're forced to take out another loan to recover from Sandy they could be crushed under the weight of the added and expected new debt.
Assembly Commerce Committee chairman, Albert Coutinho says he knows a small business owner in that very situation.
Coutinho says the owner told him, "I lost $1.2 million as a result of the storm so now I'm going to go borrow money so I can work for the next six years to pay back what I lost?" The business owner is now talking with a bankruptcy attorney.
Without grants says Coutinho, "You're basically telling that business to take the hit and 85% of the jobs in this state are created by small businesses….If they go out of business now, all of a sudden that's going to hurt the state's economy as well."
"Helping businesses rebuild after Sandy will take a multi-faceted approach," says New Jersey Business and Industry Association vice president David Brogan. "It will take a combination of grants, low-interest loans, tax incentives and regulatory flexibility, but the stakes are high. Every business that decides not to rebuild will cost us in jobs and lost tax revenues, and hurt our economy."
While the Assembly panel was holding its hearing at the State House in Trenton, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was testifying on the same topic in Washington.
Menendez says, "Many small businesses simply don't have the capacity to add more debt to their books. Small business owners around the state have told me they already took out significant debt to either start up their business, survive the Great Recession, or even make repairs after Hurricane Irene struck in the summer of 2011."
Citing the unique challenges small businesses face when rebuilding, Menendez is calling for direct assistance to help assist small businesses which currently only have loans to turn to.