Last month, the Island Park Chamber of Commerce held an informational meeting for local business owners, letting them know how to get in touch with elected officials and helping them find out about aid that is available for rebuilding businesses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Chamber President Glenn Ingoglia and member Michael Scully organized the Dec. 19 meeting, focusing on businesses, because most post-storm aid is directed at homeowners. Businesses — even those that are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency — are only eligible for loans, not grants.
“Now we’re at a time when the shock is over and we need to rebuild,” said Kyle Strober, the Long Island regional director for Sen. Charles Schumer. County Legislators Denise Ford and Howard Kopel attended the meeting, as did Island Park Mayor James Ruzicka, Nick Terzulli of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and representatives of FEMA.
Strober told business owners about $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants that Congress is expected to approve. Some of that money would find its way to Nassau County, he said, and eventually to Island Park.
The most pertinent information, however, came from Terzulli, who told the gathering about help that is now available to them from the county. Business owners can visit www.nassaubackinbusiness.org to find a list of all the resources they can use as well as answers to many questions they may have.
The IDA, Terzulli said, is charged with keeping jobs in Nassau County and creating new ones, and it is doing what it can to help businesses. Business owners can get a sales tax exemption letter by applying to the IDA, and save money by eliminating the 8.625 percent sales tax they normally pay for goods.
“To date, we’ve done 66 of these transactions,” said Terzulli. “It’s at no cost at all to the business owner. We’ve given out over $1.5 million in financial assistance through this process.”
The letter is not a loan or a grant; it simply eliminates the sales tax, which can save a business hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. It is not retroactive for items that have already been purchased.