Lawmakers hold hearing on access to capital for small businesses in NYS

Corina Cappabianca

October 16, 2020

Originally published in WETM 18 News on October 16, 2020.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many small businesses across New York State have been hit hard financially. State lawmakers held a virtual hearing Wednesday to take a look at the issues they face with access to capital and lending. 

“We have all heard about the struggles of small businesses in accessing the federal PPP program. We also have heard and seen the chilling impact of COVID-19 that has had on our small businesses ability to remain open,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan.

The New York State Senate says lending has decreased “significantly” since the start of the pandemic and that many small businesses have already made the decision to shut down or are on the verge of doing so. 

“Many of them are hanging by a thread to continue, particularly our restaurant industry, and those type of entertainment venues that have really been hit hard by this,” said State Senator Tom O’Mara.

For some, the fear of racking up debt continues.

“Many small businesses have been apprehensive to take on debt as they’re concerned with the unknown. All of our business advisors across the state have heard this main concern,” said SUNY Farmingdale Small Businesses Development Center Director Erica Chase-Gregory.

Since March, Empire State Development has taken steps to help these businesses, including a $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund.

“In the beginning, when we launched the program, PPP was so big, it’s hard to compete with $100 million versus almost $680 billion. So we had said no PPP loans, but we changed that a few weeks ago because we realized that what happened was people were getting PPP loans, they only lasted them 8 weeks for payroll. This pandemic has gone way past 8 weeks,” said Pravina Raghavan, Executive Vice President for Small Business and Technology Development at Empire State Development.

Empire State Development says only about $11.5 million from the New York Forward Loan Fund has been dispersed.