MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County is formulating a plan to invigorate a local economy that has been decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.
During her daily briefing with reporters on Thursday, County Executive Laura Curran explained what government is preparing to do to help small businesses.
“We do know that life will find its balance again. It will be different, but life will find its balance again. So we cannot procrastinate in making sure we’re as resilient as possible to recover economically,” Curran said.
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Which is why she said she tasked her Economic Advisory Council to find out what businesses need to rebound. Curran said she’s also working with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to get a regional perspective since Long Island functions economically as a two-county system.
“This is a way we can compile the facts, look at the facts, and then use the facts when the time comes on the flip side of this crisis moment that we are in,” Curran said.
She explained that the Economic Advisory Council recently put out a 10-minute survey and in one week received 1,431 responses, 90% of which were from small businesses, those with less than 25 employees.
The survey respondents revealed that more than half have already laid off employees, with the rest claiming layoffs are coming. In addition, more than half said they won’t make a profit in 2020, with 80% saying they’ll need loans to operate through 2020.
Jamie Lynch, with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, predicts a far worse blow than Superstorm Sandy.
“After Sandy was done, you walked out your door and you saw what was ahead of you and you started to rebuild. This is still going and it’s unknown when it’s going to stop and some shops may not open,” Lynch told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
The business owners cited obvious reasons for their struggles, like the lack of customers, resources, and revenue to pay payroll and overhead.
“We are continuously getting phone calls from our vendors who we owe money to. Our rent is due,” restaurant owner Raquel Wolf-Jadeja told Gusoff.
Wolf-Jadeja said she had to lay off most of her staff, keeping only a skeleton crew to fill take-out orders. She said she’s unsure if federal loans will keep her afloat.
“As a mom and pop restaurant, which typically does not qualify doesn’t qualify for bank loans, we are still unclear if that really benefits main street,” Wolf-Jadeja said.
Curran said she understands just how dire the situation is.
“There is pain now and we know there will be pain down the road,” Curran said, adding the hospitality industry is suffering the most. “The money they are losing now is gone. That’s money that will never be recouped.”
The executive said the Economic Advisory Council is working with HR&A advisors to create an economic portrait of the county, comparing normal circumstances to the situation during the crisis. They are looking at the current conditions and using sophisticated modeling techniques to come up with a plan before asking the state and federal governments for help. Curran said by doing so, the county can quantify its needs and have proof.
“It’s clear we will need more and must back it up with real data,” she said.
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Curran also said the Nassau County Bar Association is setting up a COVID-19 task force to supply the public with tutorials and virtual consultations.
“We want to get the word out on new Small Business Association programs, including the new payroll protection plan and disaster assistance funds,” Curran said.
She also cautioned the public about scammers, saying no one should give out their personal financial information.
CURRENT CORONAVIRUS CASES
Curran said there are now 10,587 positive cases in Nassau, up 1,333 from Wednesday. She reported 19 news deaths, bringing the county’s total to 95.
She said there are currently 1,471 people hospitalized, an increase of 194 over the last 24 hours.
Among members of the Nassau County Police Department, there are 92 positive cases and 176 members are quarantined.