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Mayor de Blasio and Department of Small Business Services Announce Free Risk Assessments and $1.77 Million in Grants for Small Businesses Affected by Hurricane Sandy

October 26, 2016

BusinessPREP initiative will help businesses with emergency preparedness, including educational tools for small businesses across New York City

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop today announced the availability of a new grant program and free risk assessments for small businesses. This new service is part of the agency’s BusinessPREP (Preparedness and Resiliency Program) initiative and an aspect of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC goal which aims to create a more equitable, sustainable and resilient city. The assessments will tailor recommendations to help small businesses reduce vulnerability to disruptions, protect assets and get back to business following a disaster. The new assessment and grant components of BusinessPREP are available to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. BusinessPREP also offers educational services on emergency preparedness which were launched in November 2015. Seminars and webinars are available to all businesses across New York City.

“Four years ago, New York City experienced one of the worst natural disasters in its history. Homes were damaged, lives were lost and businesses were not only damaged physically, but also economically,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today, we’re continuing to make this city more resilient so that it can tackle other 21st Century threats like Hurricane Sandy. BusinessPREP is crucial in our efforts to prepare for these threats and is a measure we’re taking to ensure that our city’s small businesses – the backbone of our economy – have the resources they need to spring back into action after a disaster.”

“Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on the people of New York, including the small businesses that anchor our neighborhoods,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “To help small business owners prepare for emergency situations, SBS and Mayor Bill de Blasio are proud to commit new resources to proactively help businesses assess risks and proactively address vulnerabilities.”

“Small businesses are a vital part of the city’s economy and face unique challenges from climate change, which is why the City is committed to helping them become more resilient,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of the Mayor. “Today’s announcement of a new BusinessPREP program provides technical and financial assistance to ensure that small businesses are able to thrive now and in the future. By helping to build more resilient small businesses, we also strengthen neighborhoods as a key component of the City’s OneNYC program to build a more equitable, sustainable and resilient city.”

“Time and time again we have seen that the impacts of emergencies on a community are magnified by the impact to the local small businesses. We are happy to be working with SBS to expand and enhance our joint ReadyNY for Business resources through the BusinessPREP initiative,” said the Commissioner of Emergency Management Joseph Esposito. “A big part of our job at NYC Emergency Management is to support community resilience by preparing for, responding to and recovering from all emergencies by bringing the right resources to the table. SBS is an important partner in this effort and we are proud to work with them every day.”

The free, on-site risk assessments by the Department of Small Business Services will recommend customized physical, operational and financial preparedness and resiliency-related improvements to business owners. Businesses that receive an assessment will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $3,000 to purchase resiliency-related items recommended by the assessment.

A total of $1.77 million is available in grant funding. Businesses that are interested in the BusinessPREP program may visit or email

The workshops and webinars offered by the Department of Small Business Services’ BusinessPREP initiative help businesses prepare for emergencies and develop a personal business continuity plan. Online business resiliency resources are available to improve business preparedness and resiliency. During its first year, BusinessPREP reached over 300 New Yorkers through 15 workshops, 3 webinars and Train the Trainer sessions conducted in Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, West Chelsea, Upper Manhattan, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn Staten Island, the Rockaways (including Downtown Far Rockaway), Jamaica, Long Island City and Port Morris.

The Business PREP initiative is funded by federal dollars awarded to SBS via the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

“Small businesses are at the heart of the New York’s many vibrant communities – proving to be an important source of jobs, promoting a strong sense of local identity and consistently being among the first to offer essential goods, services and support in the aftermath of a storm or disaster,” said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Executive Director of GOSR. “Paired with the assistance we provide through our NY Rising programs, BusinessPREP promotes the resiliency of small businesses and positions them for continued success and growth in their respective sectors. While this undertaking is, therefore, beneficial to the economic vitality of New York, it also serves as a tremendous example of grassroots planning in action – taking a proposal that was born out of the bottom-up Community Reconstruction Program and bringing it to fruition thanks to partnerships on the City and State levels.”

“As we approach the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we are reminded of the devastating effects the storm had on many of Staten Island’s small businesses,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “As we saw four years ago, many were not adequately prepared for a storm of that magnitude. This program will provide much needed upgrades to our small businesses, which are the backbone of our community. We need to do everything we can to make sure we have taken the necessary measures to protect ourselves from a future emergency situation, and this is a step in the right direction.” 

"Natural and unforeseen disasters can take a massive toll on entire communities, as we saw during Superstorm Sandy,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano. “Emergency preparedness education is crucial, not only for the residents of New York City, but for the businesses that contribute to the lifeblood of our communities. My hope is that those with access to these resources will use this program to help the city get back up and running quickly in the event of a disaster. Many thanks to the Department of Small Business Services and Mayor Bill de Blasio for investing in the safety of small businesses and our communities."

Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Chair of the Committee on Small Business, said, “The price of doing business in New York City should never bankrupt a business owner. However, when disasters such as Hurricane Sandy strike, Small Business owners often bear the brunt of the expenses with little relief. This new grant program, announced by Commissioner Gregg Bishop, offering free risk assessments for small businesses is just the type of protection businesses need to stay afloat during disaster. As Chair of Committee on Small Business, it has been my mission to write legislation and champion initiatives that protect and undergird small business owners. The BusinessPREP initiative is a perfect example of the best of City’s services at work.”

“Superstorm Sandy reminded us how crucial many of our small businesses are to the fabric of our neighborhoods. When we assist small business owners with ensuring that they are prepared in the event of another emergency, we are taking a measure to protect the community as a whole, because so many of our residents rely on these enterprises in their daily life. As chair of the City Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, I have witnessed many community advocates testify about the need for more grants and loans for mom-and-pop shops in our neighborhoods, so I applaud Commissioner Bishop and SBS for making these resources available,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.

“In order to proactively protect our small businesses in coastal communities, we must ensure that business owners have every opportunity to protect their assets and be able to bounce back after any potential storms in the future,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “This initiative through the Department of Small Business Services will help provide owners across the city with the information needed to better prepare for storms like Sandy. I’d like to thank Commissioner Bishop for his continued commitment to preparing small business owners for the future.”

“We all know that emergencies can strike without a moment’s notice, which is why we need to ensure we have the resources to stay prepared,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “That’s why I’m incredibly pleased that Commissioner Bishop and SBS are committed to ensuring that our small businesses in the Bronx are provided with the opportunity to attain risk assessments needed to prepare.”

About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building a fairer economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to, call 311, and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency
 In March 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the establishment of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR). This Office leads the City's efforts to build a stronger, more resilient New York by implementing recommendations laid out in A Stronger, More Resilient New York and in 2015's One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City.

About the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR)
Established in June 2013, GOSR coordinates statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its NYRCR Program – as well as its NY Rising Housing Recovery, Small Business and Infrastructure programs – GOSR invests $4.4 billion made available through HUD’s CDBG-DR Program to better prepare New York for future extreme weather events.

About the Office of Emergency Management
Established in 1996, NYC Emergency Management is a coordinating agency for the City of New York. The agency plans and prepares for emergencies, educates the public about preparedness, coordinates emergency response and recovery, and collects and disseminates emergency information.

The agency maintains a disciplined unit of emergency management personnel – including but not limited to: responders, planners, watch commanders, logisticians, community outreach, communications, administrative and support staff – to identify and respond to various hazards.

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