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UPDATE: Deadlines Loom for Businesses Needing Sandy Assistance

Resources available from federal, state and county government; one filing deadline extended.

Financial assistance is available for Long Island businesses affected by Sandy. But those afflicted are facing a series of key deadlines.

To assist, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano created a Business Recovery Task Force. Its mission is to help restore the economy post Sandy, with a portal listing federal, state and county resources.

To help bring attention to these various programs and incentives, officials from all levels of government as well as loan specialists spoke recently at a small business seminar at Harbor Links Club House in Port Washington. Sponsored by the Town of North Hempstead Business & Tourism Development Corp., the event drew about 50 small business leaders eager to learn how to get back on their feet.

Speaking first was U.S. Small Business Administration Public Affairs Specialist Edward “Greg” Dawson recommended filing claims with insurance companies as well as Federal Emergency Management Association and the SBA.

“These three entities combined should get you back to where you were before the disaster,” he said.

The deadline for applying to the SBA for physical damage has been extended to Jan. 28, 2013. For or economic injury, the deadline is July 31, 2013, he said. Claims can be filed online. For information about the disaster loan process, or to receive an application by mail, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or call 800-659-2955.

Philip Padgett of FEMA said the agency is offering assistance to help private sector interests become stronger and more resilient, which leads to “more competitive” communities. But, he said, “it matters to be prepared.”

Towards that end, Ready.gov offers downloadable resources for continuity planning, including navigating the business impact of a disaster, determining how to get back online, who on staff could work from home and more. 

To speak with a FEMA representative, call 800-621-FEMA. Or Padgett said, “Go into any disaster recovery center and sit down face to face – specialists can call up your application and talk you through that. Register now.”

The deadline for filing a FEMA claim has been extended from Dec. 31 to Jan. 28, 2013. Padgett said it's important to file. “You may not know about damage yet – get there and be registered," he said.

Some government agencies are offering incentives to help businesses rebuild. For example, Nassau County’s IDA is offering a program that provides sales tax waivers. It's a program where businesses may be exempt for up to $1.15 million in purchases of equipment or supplies needed for rebuilding, said Nicholas T. Terzulli, the agency’s director of business development.

And the New York State Labor Department also offers assistance, including a shared work program that allows a company facing a temporary downsize to, rather than layoff 10 employees, reduce hours for 30 employees.

“The program allows [employees] to collect unemployment insurance, and gets them close to being whole,” said Mark Grossman’s the Labor Department’s Long Island regional director. Given that the biggest cost for most businesses is training, companies can now retain staffers. That way, "when business comes back, you’re ready to go,” Grossman says. 

Additional Labor Department services include computerized skill matching, human resources assistance and more.

For those seeking funding, Empire State Development Corp. is offering emergency loans of up to $25,000 to help businesses, a spokesman said. Business owners should apply through a Small Business Development Center at either Farmingdale State College of SUNY Stony Brook, a spokesman said.

And the New York State Targeted Loan Fund “helps small business negatively affected by Sandy and throughout time afterwards,” said Roslyn Goldmacher, president and CEO of Westbury-based Long Island Development Corp And another program, LISBAC, lends up to $10,000 for small businesses and businesses owned by women or minorities. 

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