it was a show of force earlier today at City Hall, as local elected officials and community leaders came out in support of a relief fund for small businesses in Chinatown impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The effort by the Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown BID has already raised $45,000. All of the money will be used for a grant program; eligible businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance.
The campaign includes a benefit dinner at the Grand Harmony Restaurant, 98 Mott Street, on December 19. Today, Grand Harmony owner Tony Chen said his business was dealt a serious setback from the storm. Not only was he shut down for a week and forced to throw out a lot of spoiled food, but Chen said his customers have not come back in large numbers since the storm. He estimated business is off by about 30%
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said small businesses need grants, not just loans in the aftermath of Sandy. “They don’t need to be saddled with additional debt,” he argued.
City Council member Margaret Chin’s office has been working with organizers to set up the fund. As today’s news conference was ending, Mayor Bloomberg walked by, chatting briefly with the elected officials who were lingering outside City Hall. Chin asked, “Mr. Mayor when are you coming down to Chinatown?” Bloomberg responded, “when you invite me.” As the mayor returned to his office, Chin said to staff members and reporters she’d make sure he got an invitation.
First American International Bank (FAIB), CAIPA (Chinese American Independent Practitioner Association) and the Magna Carta Insurance Company have all donated $10,000. David J. Louie Inc, World Journal Cultural Foundation and and Con Ed donated $5,000. The Chinese American Bankers Association donated $1,000.