Downtown Alliance starts awarding small business grants

Pasanella & Son
Pasanella & Son Vintners was among the first 17 recipients of a grant from the Downtown Alliance to repair damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy. The store at 115 South St. received a grant of $20,000. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Seventeen Lower Manhattan small business owners got the good news this week that grants from the Downtown Alliance are on their way to help them repair their Sandy-damaged stores.

The first 17 grants from the Lower Manhattan: Back to Business Small Business Grant Program totaled $266,269. Another six businesses were awarded provisional grants totaling $120,000 pending the reopening of their stores.

The maximum grant from this program is $20,000.

The Downtown Alliance launched the small business grant program on Nov. 19, contributing the first $1 million and mobilizing additional financial contributions of more than $500,000 to date. Under the program, grants are being awarded to qualifying small businesses located within Flood Zone A below Chambers St.

Contributors have included Goldman Sachs, Trinity Church, Citibank, The Durst Organization, The Howard Hughes Corporation, AT&T New York, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, CB Richard Ellis and the FiDi Association. Platinum Properties announced that half of the proceeds from its raffle at the company’s holiday party would go to the Back to Business Small Business Grant Program.

Real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield was the most recent donor to the program.

Applications for the program became available on Nov. 30. By Dec. 12, more than 130 companies had applied and the Downtown Alliance had to close the application process. Names submitted after that date have been kept on file in case more money becomes available.

Marco Pasanella of Pasanella & Son Vintners was among the first 17 recipients. He received word on Friday, Dec. 14, that he had been awarded a $20,000 grant to rehabilitate his store at 115 South St., which was flooded with more than eight feet of water during the storm surge.

On Tuesday, the grant was confirmed by an email asking him to verify his banking information. He said he was very happy. “I’ll use the money to get out of debt,” he said. “Probably in the long term, it’s not going to be a huge amount, but it’s the right amount at the right time.”

He has 30 days to pay the vendors from whom he buys his wine, he explained, and if he goes even one day beyond that, he would get put on a State cash-only list that would magnify his financial problems. “If that had happened, we would be in very difficult shape. This grant will ensure that’s not going to happen.”

Pasanella praised the Downtown Alliance for being responsive. “The application process was relatively painless, and it was great that they acted so quickly,” he said.

In addition to Pasanella & Son, the first grant recipients included a nail salon, a dry cleaners, a deli on John St., and several food shops.

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