Grants to Chinatown businesses

BY KAITLYN MEADE  |  Chinatown’s Business Improvement District and the Chinatown Partnership are going to award grants to small businesses impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

At press conference on Thurs., Dec. 6, the Chinatown Partnership and BID outlined a fundraising initiative to collect the money necessary to provide these grants, culminating in a holiday reception to recognize sponsors and partners. So far, the donations total over $40,000 for the relief fund.

“We have hit our initial goal,” said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership. “Our results have been very, very positive.”

Grants will be made available to businesses that are located in the BID’s service area, which is marked in blue on a map provided by the Partnership. Businesses must also have been open for at least a year or have a five-year lease, have 50 or fewer employees or an annual revenue of less than one-million dollars in 2011, have been closed for at least five days because Sandy and must show proof of financial losses.

The application specifies that the grants can only be used for specific purposes, including short-term payroll, property and equipment repair, mortgage and loan payments, relocation costs and to replace or compensate them for products damaged or lost after the storm such as perishable food. Businesses are required to indicate how they will use the grants beforehand.

Grant applications are due by Tues., Jan. 8, 2013 and can be filled out online or hard copies are available at the Partnership’s offices at 60 St. James Place. Businesses owners can also go to the office for help filling out the application or to have it translated. “We are now open seven days a week,” said Chen, as they are operating as a Sandy Response Center for New York State.

Businesses have already begun submitting applications, though the amount of each grant will be determined by how much money is raised.

To that end, a holiday-themed reception will be held on Wed., Dec. 19 at Grand Harmony on 98 Mott St. Tickets are $25 per person, and open the doors to sponsor-provided food and drink as well as a silent auction. All proceeds from the event will go directly into a separate account specifically to fund Chinatown’s business grants.

Most importantly, Chen said, Chinatown needs business. The Chinatown Revival Street Fair was an “injection of caffeine” to boost local business, but the businesses need “a strategic, systematic approach” to recover their losses and build toward more long-term stability.

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