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Queens Businesses Are Being Decimated, Owners Call on Government for Help

(via Twitter_ @SenGianaris) (1)

Sep. 10, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Dozens of small business owners in Queens have come together to call on the government to help them get through the economic crisis before they are forced to permanently close.

The business owners appealed to city, state and federal officials for financial relief and other forms of assistance at a press conference in Astoria today. Organizers used the hashtag “SAVE OUR SMALL BIZ” to highlight their cause.

The organizers, who held the event outside Katch Astoria on Newtown Avenue, outlined a series of demands including commercial rent relief, business grants and loans as well as a detailed plan for indoor dining.

The group also wants outdoor performance spaces to be reopened and said that the city’s arts and cultural industries have been crippled under the COVID-19 shutdown.

The event was organized by the Western Queens Small Business Council and several Business Improvement District directors and other local business advocates. State Senators Mike Gianaris and Jessica Ramos were also present along with Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Donovan Richards.

Gianaris said that many small businesses are unlikely to survive the economic downturn unless immediate relief is provided.

“We are in the midst of a small business catastrophe the likes of which we’ve never seen,” Gianaris said.

The business owners said they owe tens of thousands of dollars in rent, which has mounted since March. They said they have been asked to bear the cost of the shutdown alone and called for partial or total rent forgiveness for the period in which they were closed.

Roseann McSorley, the owner of Katch Astoria, said that small business owners are struggling to pay commercial rent as well as their household rent.

“When a business closes its doors, it means dozens of families are faced with personal hardship,” McSorley said.

“We have done everything we can for the past few months to stay afloat, but we are running out of lifelines and desperately need our government to take action to save Queens’ small businesses,” she said.

The groups also called for a new round of city disaster grants and loans, and want the mayor to spearhead a Business Recovery Task Force. They also want the outer boroughs to get their fair share of help.

Restaurant and bar owners said they need an immediate blueprint for indoor dining in order to plan ahead as outdoor permits expire in October.

They also want business interruption insurance claims to be honored and expedited. In addition, they are calling on the federal government to improve and expand the PPP program.

Business owners and non-profits operating in arts and culture said that their industry is being decimated by current outdoor restrictions and want outdoor spaces to be opened up for performances.

“We were the first to be shut down and still, are not allowed to open,” said Sheila Lewandowski, the executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a nonprofit theater company.

Lewandowski, whose nonprofit is in Long Island City, said that artists are leaving the city in droves because they cannot wait around for work.

“We are critical to the city and state’s identity as a center for innovation and culture, and to our economy,” she said.

“We need guidelines and support to open safely to help bring people back to our city and state.”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer echoed those sentiments and said that mom and pop stores as well as independent theaters liven streets and bring character to the community.

“The governor must cancel commercial and tenant rents, and give working-class New Yorkers a fighting chance,” Van Bramer said.

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8 Comments

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Jack Weiss

It’s great to see the community come together. Cosmos Communications in Long Island City has been printing, creating signage and sending direct mail for businesses in this amazing community since 1980. We are working hard and safe trying to keep our employees working but it isn’t easy so it’s nice to see some positive action taking place. Keep up the good work and hopefully better days are not far away.

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Robert Nodstrom

Small businesses pay their taxes. Non-profits not only don’t pay taxes but they often end up taking in millions in taxpayer money. Maybe a good idea is that they should not do that, especially during a pandemic?

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ASensibleMan

Amazing how Cuomo and DeBlasio are managing to do to New York City what even 9/11 couldn’t do. Namely, destroy it.

And why? For a virus that has been effectively over in NYC since May and has been wildly exaggerated by the media and corrupt CDC and WHO. Now we know that only about 10,000 people actually died of COVID alone. Now we know that 90%+ of the tests are false positives (deliberately?). Yet the Clown Brothers just go ahead grinding NYC under their bootheels.

Reply
ARealMan

You can’t cherry pick. People having pre-existing conditions and subsequently died after contracting COVID, died because of COVID. You’re an insufferable prick for marginalizing an extra 200k deaths (so far) this year

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James E

Is this an April foolers joke article written for loads of laughs. These guys fighting for jobs and business, what a joke! Lamer Bramer came out of hibernation for a nice photo shoot. I have been working with Yolanda to save the neighborhood and jobs much more than any of these cloauns. Lamer Bramer went running through my park the other day and declared everything ok, now I feel safe even thought someone was killet outside my door.

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Anonymous

Ironic how this job killing quartet is called in to somehow save the day. Not one has ever run a business or held a real job, they’re all career do nothing politicians, living off the public teat. You can’t make this stuff up!

Reply
A liberal capitalist.

Mike Gianaris has no shame. Now he is worried about our businesses? Never forget this phony killed the Amazon deal. Never forget.

10
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Gladys Sometring

How about having the taxpayers pay the rent for commercial and residential tenants? Or has Lewandowski already taken all the taxpayer funds.

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