Hurricane Sandy took a toll on many communities during its wake earlier this month, damaging homes, school and businesses. Some small business owners were met with great, unexpected challenges as to how to get help and where to seek it. That’s when Gregg Bishop stepped in. Bishop is the Deputy Commissioner of the Business Development Division for the New York City Small Business Services under the Office of the Mayor. That lengthy title means the Brooklyn resident is responsible for numerous programs that provide assistance small business owners, specifically women and minority-owned to make it easier for them to build and grow their companies in NYC.
The Florida A&M and Florida State University graduate and Grenada native has been with SBS for over three years, working to help people in his community pursue their dream. So when Sandy came in and flooded stores and threatened to put small companies out of business, Bishop and his team sprung into action immediately to help owners get on the right track to recovery for their business and state of mind. We spoke to Bishop to learn what types of services SBS has been providing for the storm-affected business owners.
TNJ.com: What is SBS doing with Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Small Business Administration to help coordinate disaster relief for businesses?
Bishop: SBS is working closely with the SBA to provide assistance to businesses affected by the storm. We have opened SBA Business Recover Centers in our Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan centers with more to come shortly. This means a business can get local and federal assistance in one location.
TNJ.com: What were some of the jobs you had to do when you first responded to the storm?
Bishop: Our work is related to helping businesses recover as quickly as possible. The team quickly worked with the Economic Development Corporation and Goldman Sachs to establish an emergency loan fund. We mobilized our Emergency Response Unit team and had them stationed at the Office of Emergency Management to assist with interagency communications. We are working with several chambers and local development corporations to get information out about how we can help businesses recover. I've been managing out overall response.
TNJ.com: What were some of the biggest problems small businesses faced in the aftermath of the storm?
Bishop: Insurance is a big problem. Most businesses do not have business interruption insurance and/or flood insurance. Finding temporary space, replacement documents, etc. Getting assistance with displaced employees are just some of problems I've seen since the storm first hit. All our storm information is at nyc.gov.
TNJ.com: What has been your personal reaction this month as you witness all the devastation in New York City?
Bishop: It's great to be in a position to help. New Yorkers have come together either to volunteer or donate. Communities such as Red Hook and Coney Island have a strong volunteer network that epitomizes the spirit of community.