ABOVE: In collaboration with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz distributed free masks, face shields and bottles of hand sanitizers to small businesses on Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights.
BY BENJAMIN FANG
With indoor dining prohibited, retail stores limited on the number of people allowed inside and the pandemic still ongoing, small businesses across the city are struggling to make enough revenue not only to pay their staff, but to pay their rent.
During a recent walk along a commercial corridor in her district with members of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz spoke to business owners who said they had to let employees go and hire family members instead.
Across her western Queens district, which includes Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, Cruz said small businesses are feeling the pain.
“It’s going to be very difficult to make the profit needed to make current and overdue rents,” she said.
The assemblywoman said she believes every level of government has a role to play in helping small businesses not just recover, but thrive. At the federal level, help is on the way after Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes $284 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to reports, $15 billion has been set aside for performance venues, movie theaters and cultural institutions. On the local level, Cruz said the city allocated several million dollars to struggling small businesses, but they also doled out the funding on a first-come, first-served basis rather than need, which the assemblywoman said should be the priority.
“Those who can get the money first are the business owners who are more savvy,” she said.