Marianne Olive reopened her Nyack businesses Olive's, Sour Kraut and Here's Marianne in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but business is slow as Nyack recovers from the impact of the storm.
"It has been difficult," Olive said. "We're open, but people are not coming. We really need the towns to be promoted. People need to think good and positive things about them. Nobody wants to come into a disaster."
Stories like that are one reason Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders and Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White organized a meeting that brought together agencies ready to help local small businesses recover from Hurricane Sandy Monday in Piermont Village Hall.
"I want to thank the two mayors for shepherding this today," said Thom Kleiner of the New York State Department of Labor.
"I want to take a moment and applaud all of you for your resilience, your confidence in the Rockland County market," said Michael J. DiTullo, President & CEO of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation. "We will rebuild. We will come back. We will be stronger than ever. I am very confident in that."
Among those joining DiTullo and Kleiner were representatives of the Hudson Valley Economic Development corporation, Steve Porath of the Rockland County Industrial Development Agency, Josh Barnes of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce and Economic Development, FEMA, M&T Bank, First Niagara Bank, the NYS Dept. of Finance (Insurance Division) and Joseph P. Van De Loo of the Empire State Marine Trades Association.
"It is very difficult for the marine industry," Van De Loo said. "We are in recovery mode. So many of our members are trying to pick up the pieces and put one foot in front of the other and deal with major, major losses."
Director of Operations Susan Rutledge represented County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef's office. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart were among the other public officials present.
"What I did see everywhere was an amazing response from local officials and your home team," Lowey said. "You're right there helping people. Thom Kleiner is here someplace representing the governor. You did a pretty good job, too.
"We really have to make our small business response more effective because somehow they are not getting their immediate needs addressed."
White made an offer to businesses in Piermont and elsewhere in the county whose shops are not ready to reopen to set up temporarily in open Nyack storefronts.
"Our building department agreed to help. If you are interested in coming to Nyack, if you are a Piermont business or a Stony Point business, we will welcome you and help you expedite things," White said. "We do have room. We'd be happy to get you up and running so you don't miss the holidays."
Among other types of aid available to small businesses:
- The Rockland IDA can help businesses apply for tax exemptions for rebuilding costs.
- The REDC's Small Business Center is open for those needing resources or a place to work.
- Barnes spoke about federal below-market loans for small businesses looking to expand or recover from the storm.
- Kleiner said the state has access to disaster unemployment insurance for residents who are out of work due to the storm. The state has also given employers extra time for paperwork due in October and November.
Jaffee said it was important to help find grant money to help local small businesses rebuild.
"I think for small businesses, loans are not an easy fix," Jaffee said. "They work on a very small margin. They are out of business for a little while and it will take time for repairs. I think grants are an important piece of this and it's something we all have to advocate for."