"We have given the business owners the tools they need to help themselves," said Senator Serrano. "This public project has had a tremendously negative impact on the livelihoods of these merchants. I am proud to say that Albany has righted a wrong."
The bill would institute a grant program to help small business owners who can show a demonstrated loss of business due to the construction. The program provides matching funds for capital improvements, marketing costs, payroll, rent and business counseling assistance.
The grants come at a time when dwindling foot traffic has caused most business owners to experience dramatic reductions in revenue. One in five have been forced to permanently close their doors.
"This subway is one of the most significant projects in decades for the East Side of Manhattan," said Assemblymember Bing. "We need to improve our transportation infrastructure, but today we went one step further and ensured that the establishments that were here before the train will survive to enjoy the benefits of a completed Second Avenue subway."
The grants program was designed to build upon the "Shop Second Avenue" campaign, launched in January of this year. The campaign has employed events, advertising and press outreach to offset the negative effects of the construction.
"Time is of the essence. We hope to see this program implemented as soon as possible," said Assemblymember Bing. "Let's stem the tide of these closures, and bring vibrancy back to Second Avenue."
The bill now heads to the desk of Governor David A. Paterson to be signed into law.