The Work is Just Beginning
As we start to celebrate Small Business Saturday in this year’s shifted landscape, it is important to remember the road to recovery has only just begun for most businesses and their employees, but government support has all but ceased.
As of August, all federally supported programs of loans, grants, and unemployment assistance ended. Congress couldn’t agree to a second stimulus package we desperately need. However, we New Yorkers, newly-emerged from the lockdown, did what we do best in moments of adversity: we rolled up our sleeves, and went to work.
This summer, businesses slowly reopened, armed with Department of Health mandated protocols, where we saw folks eating at their local haunts either on sidewalks, or blocked off roadways. We returned to our nail salons and bodegas, greeted with plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizers. Businesses undertook executing these mandates with great expense in the hopes of making up lost ground. I think we all saw the glimmer of hope, that little thought of, “maybe we are getting back to normal”.
However, with colder weather and the start of flu season, we are starting to see COVID rates rise rapidly, with hotspots forming in the outer boroughs. One such hot spot is District 24 in Queens, where I am running for City Council.
The reality is starting to set in that we may very well be headed into a second lockdown. But this will be more dangerous than the first because, this time, there are no government-provided resources to fall back on.
As a small-business owner myself, our city government’s response to this pandemic is frustrating. With ever-changing rules, never-ending paperwork, and incredibly specific qualification requirements for any sort of financial relief, I decided to pivot my business into just providing food for essential workers, frontline responders, and food insecure members of my community. I independently raised funding to support my decision, as well as to be able to make payroll. It wasn’t a profitable pivot, rather a conscientious one. I delivered a swift solution to a desperate problem. I consider myself one of the few lucky ones. For the majority, times are still grim.
Many of the small businesses in my district are immigrant owned, employing a workforce of newly arrived immigrants working towards their own…