Cuomo announces small-business loans at 1%

File photo of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo File photo of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he surveys the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Small businesses can apply for up to $25,000 in loans to help them through tough times brought on by Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Exclusively available to small businesses in affected communities, the loans will be interest-free and payment-free for the first six months, then must be repaid during the following two years while recipients are charged 1 percent interest.

The $10 million emergency loan program is for independently owned and operated businesses that have fewer than 100 employees and are located in the regions designated as disaster areas: Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, plus the five boroughs of New York City.

To be eligible for funding through the program, companies must have filed 2011 business tax returns and must 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, the governor's office said.

Information on the new resource is available online at www.esd.ny.gov or by calling 855-NYS-SANDY. The money is being made available through an agreement between the New York Bankers Association and the New York Business Development Corp.

"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," Cuomo said in a statement.

Eligible businesses can use the funding either to cover equipment costs or as working capital, the governor's office said.

Created in 1955, the New York Business Development Corp. is a consortium of banks that provides both government-guaranteed and conventional loans to small businesses at all stages of development.

Meanwhile, Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns toured Yonkers Wednesday with local officials for a firsthand look at the devastation.

One of her stops with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano was a tour of Altman Lighting Co. Inc., a small business that suffered damage during Sandy. Ron Shemesh, owner of Excelsior Packaging group in Yonkers, told her that Sandy dumped more than four feet of water onto $50 million worth of equipment at his plastics company, which has cost him more than $7 million in damage.

"We've had no revenue for three weeks, so it's devastating," Shemesh told News12, adding that he's not sure he qualifies for help under any of the current programs.

The SBA, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is offering low-interest loans to help small businesses rebuild. Information is available on the SBA website at www.sba.gov/content/2012-hurricane-and-tropical-storm-recovery-assistance-information.

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