BY CARLO SCISSURA
Hurricane Sandy left an unprecedented trail of death and destruction across our great city and borough. While the storm may have destroyed scores of homes and businesses in Brooklyn, the aftermath has been one filled with hope and renewal. Brooklynites are tough. It is times like this that brings out the very best in us.
In the immediate aftermath of this disaster, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce wasted no time reaching out to businesses in the affected areas. I and my staff called and visited businesses located in the hardest hit neighborhoods – DUMBO, Red Hook, Williamsburg, the Navy Yard, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gerritsen Beach, and Sheepshead Bay – to inform them that the Chamber and its resources are here for them.
Going store-to-store along the waterfront, I saw business owners who had lost everything – entire shops and the years of effort and care that went into it, wiped out overnight. My heart ached when I saw parts of Coney Island that were destroyed: borough landmarks such as Gargiulo’s, Nathan’s, and the New York Aquarium suffered heavy damages.
I realized that business owners needed a first-stop resource for information. So we created a Resource Guide, distributed hard copies, and posted it online at www.ibrooklyn.com/sandy.
This resource will help you navigate the many programs managed by the Chamber to assist you and inform you of your options.
If you are a business in need, the first thing to do is access our comprehensive Resource Guide. There, you can see what is available to you in the way of government assistance, grants, and loan programs.
Then, and I can’t emphasize this point enough, it is imperative for those who lost their businesses or who suffered damage to infrastructure, equipment, and other materials to contact FEMA immediately. That starts the process. The Chamber, through its Business Solutions Center, also has staff on hand to help small business owners fill out forms and examine your options when it comes to applying for loans. Those interested should contact the Brooklyn office of the NYC Business Solutions Center at 347-296-8021.
If you need office space, the Chamber would like to extend temporary work space at our offices at 25 Elm Place in Downtown Brooklyn through the end of the calendar year. Hopefully, this helps some businesses in picking up the pieces and getting back onto the road to recovery, which may take weeks, if not months. For more information, please contact us at 1-718-875-1000, ext. 127.
In addition to the Brooklyn Resource Guide, the Chamber seeks to help average New Yorkers channel their generosity that continues to know no bounds. The Brooklyn Recovery Fund aims to help channel that energy into distributing aid the most efficiently to where it is most needed.
All proceeds – 100 percent — will go to people and places right here in our home borough. Donations have already gone out and will continue through networking events and more initiatives to be announced in the coming weeks. The Recovery Fund was created just days after the storm by a partnership of the Chamber, the Brooklyn Community Foundation (BCF), and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. Its purpose is to support Brooklyn communities and organizations impacted by the hurricane.
In addition, a combined $400,000 has been pledged to the Fund by BCF, Forest City Ratner Companies, the Brooklyn Nets, and Barclays Center. I want to thank them for their generosity.
It has been amazing to see neighbors – and strangers – helping neighbors by donating time, clothing, food and more to make life bearable for those who lost everything. Together, we’re off to a great start. Together, we can help Brooklyn businesses rebuild and grow bigger and better than ever.
Carlo A. Scissura is the President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the Chamber, please visit www.ibrooklyn.com or call 718-875-1000.