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Lawmakers Aim To Aid Recovery For Small Businesses

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Tens of thousands of small businesses need help recovering from Sandy, which is why city lawmakers are starting up a new program to drive customers to the businesses that need them. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

The chalkboards usually reserved for daily specials now have requests for donations scrawled across them.

Hurricane Sandy wiped out the renovations at the Water Street Restaurant in Dumbo that were done just weeks before the storm hit. The cost for repairs? $150,000, steep for a small business.

"The kitchen, which is downstairs, was submerged completely in water," said Christopher Daly, chef at the Water Street Restaurant. "The owners lost a tremendous amount of input with regards to capital, and it's almost as though they're starting anew."

A few storefronts away, people are once again enjoying the sweet treats at One Girl Cookies. Employees worked for two weeks to get it back open for the critical holiday shopping season, but business is still slow.

"We need a strong season this Christmas season, and we need to just keep doing more business to help pay those bills and help keep business rolling," said David Crofton, co-owner of One Girl Cookies.

The city said more than 13,000 businesses were affected by Sandy. To steer shoppers their way, the City Council is launching a campaign called "Support NYC Small Business". It features an advertising blitz, an interactive map of businesses and a partnership with Yelp, which will link users to that map.

"This effort today really, in some ways, sums up what the Sandy recovery has been about. It's about people stepping up and helping themselves," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "It's been about communities coming together and supporting each other."

But the financial losses can be crippling. The federal Small Business Administration has already given 175,000 low-interest loans to those impacted.

"The economic injury, I feel, is really the disaster," said Stephen D'Alenssio of the Small Business Administration. "There are billions of dollars out there in damage and we're just trying to help small businesses, the homeowners and the renters back on their feet."

Though the fresh-baked goodies may be ready to eat, it could take months for businesses to recover, if they ever do.

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