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  • Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses on the Way

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Applications for small business loans for payroll and other overhead costs will be made available on Friday.

    The New York City small business loan program, which offers zero-interest loans up to $75,000, was made available last week.

    WCBS Business Producer Neil A. Carousso spoke with New York City Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop about forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration, how to apply to the loan programs available, and what business owners should do if the coronavirus pandemic lasts several more months.

    You can listen to the interview above.

    For more information on the $349 billion in loans available through the SBA, including the time frame for receiving capital from a bank, listen and read this week’s WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast, focusing on small business survival, with WCBS’ Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso.

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  • Difference Makers: Tri-State Non-Profits Mobilize To Support Those In Need Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    During this unprecedented time, we continue to share stories of “Difference Makers” in our community. Do you know someone who has gone above and beyond during the coronavirus crisis? Click here to let us know about your local heroes.

    HARTFORD, Conn. (WCBS 880) — The coronavirus pandemic has halted life as we know it, and for the most vulnerable population, non-profit organizations in the Tri-State Area are stepping up to serve.

    Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced the formation of a new charity on Wednesday named Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection or 4-CT, founded by two Fairfield County residents, Don Kendall and Ted Yang, who run Social Venture Partners – Connecticut, which is a collective of donors and other philanthropic groups.

    There are 12-14 non-profits in the state that are now working together as part of 4-CT to provide resources such as housing, food delivery for the elderly, and child care for those in need.

    “One of the things we’re also trying to do with 4-CT is not only provide the resources and the strategic investment, but also perhaps provide a funnel for the young people who are at home,” said Lamont, adding that it can offer a minimum wage job for students home from school because of the pandemic.

    Lamont pointed to food banks that are overwhelmed by demand. Volunteers and minimum wage workers are needed to deliver nutritious food to people’s homes while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Most people unable to get food are most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, especially elderly residents.

    There are people who would like to volunteer, but are concerned about their own safety.

    “Volunteers who used to serve food at the soup kitchen are now driving,” said David Munshine, of the Munshine Group, based in New Jersey, which specializes in marketing for non-profit organizations.

    Arm In Arm, an organization in Princeton and Trenton, they are delivering to doorsteps,” Munshine told WCBS producer Neil A. Carousso. “They’ve seen a surge in volunteers, who when they go out to get their own groceries, they can drop off a few bags of groceries for people who can’t get out.”

    Building Homes for Heroes was established after 9/11 to provide mortgage-free homes to veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is now sending money to vets who are losing wages because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Those who have been traumatized in the past, those who suffer from PTSD, any sort of trauma is a trigger for many of them, unfortunately, and [the coronavirus pandemic] certainly meets that definition,” Munshine said, noting many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

    Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder.

    Stamford Mayor David Martin launched “Stamford Together” – a citywide volunteer program to provide support for the emergency response efforts related to the COVID-19 health crisis.

    “Senior outreach program: Some of them are alone and they may need help getting their prescription, or getting food from the grocery store, or getting meals delivered or whatever it is that they may have as a special need,” Mayor Martin told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

    One can also distribute meals to school children and those with medical experience are needed to test patients for coronavirus.

    “I really am moved by the fact that people are coming forward who want to volunteer, who want to help during this crisis,” Mayor Martin said, emphasizing every precaution will be taken to protect volunteers.

    Tri-State Non-Profit Organizations in Need of Volunteers and Resources:

    Arm In Arm​

    Building Homes for Heroes

    Monmouth Conservation Foundation

    Mustard Seed School

    nourish.NJ

    Project Self-Sufficiency

    Stamford Together

    4-CT

    Front-line Appreciation Group

    Feed the Frontline Workers of NYC

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  • Small Business Survival: SBA Loans Available for Companies Impacted by Coronavirus

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — $349 billion in loans are available through the Small Business Administration as part of the newly enacted stimulus package to support businesses and their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

    On this week’s WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast focusing on small business survival, sponsored by BNB Bank, Joe Connolly speaks with Steve Bulger, SBA Atlantic Region II administrator, including New York and New Jersey, about the two small business loans available this week.

    The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program application is currently available on the SBA website. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $2 million to pay overhead costs, including salaries and rent with 30 years to pay back. EIDL payments are waived for the first year.

    “I’m telling small businesses 2-3 weeks before you really end up with the money in your bank account,” Bulger told Connolly of the EIDL.

    Any small business owners with 500 employees or less, including sole-proprietors, can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program on the SBA website starting this Friday, April 3.

    “That program is going to start this Friday and is going to be able to provide loans, forgivable loans in most cases, to small businesses to try and get them through the next three months, keeping their people on payroll, paying some of your rent, utilities, mortgage bills and basically allowing you to get through this period,” Bulger said, adding, “We believe that money will go out quick.”

    He said owners will receive Paycheck Protection Program loans in a “week or less or a little more” in some cases after applying.

    Businesses are also eligible for tax credits if they retain employees on their payroll. Up to $10,000 of payroll and health benefits per employee can be redeemed for a 50 percent tax credit to businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including from the shutdown of non-essential businesses.

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  • NY Events Business Forced to Cancel Gatherings Sees Virtual Promise

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — An events company that was created in 2004 out of the desire to meet new people and connect New Yorkers has made a necessary pivot online when businesses were shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    “We probably would have been in close to bankruptcy or in some serious situation where we may not have been able to bounce back from it,” said Dave Cervini, founder of The New York Social Network that hosts 9-18 creative activities a week from nights at the bar to hiking to scavenger hunts.

    He created an events company because he wanted to meet a woman. Cervini was a single man living on the Upper West Side while working in promotions and dabbled in on-air broadcasting at Clear Channel Communications.

    “I was an events planner for the radio station as well as being on the air at some of them, and I said, you know, there are things that I want to do: I want to go camping, I want to go hiking, I want to go to a Yankees game, I want to check out a museum, I want to do a tour, but I don’t want to do it alone,” said Cervini.

    He sought out to create experiences for like-minded people, and if he met “someone special,” it would be a bonus. For six years, Cervini created events for non-profit organizations while working at Clear Channel, before leaving the radio company and moving full-time into entrepreneurship.

    “The New York Social Network is a business that came out of a passion and a hobby,” Cervini said. “Everything that was on the schedule when I planned an event was something that I loved to do, and so, I always joke when I’m bringing people on a hike, I say, ‘Welcome to my office,’” which he repeats at all events he hosts.

    Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo shutdown all non-essential businesses last week, Cervini was forced to make an adjustment to keep his thriving experiential business alive. The New York Social Network had about 80 events scheduled through July. After canceling in-person events for the foreseeable future, he took his business online.

    “The virtual part of it keeps us alive, it keeps us in contact with people who belong to the group and it will be something that we continue to offer beyond when we are able to get back together again,” said Cervini who has seen promising results and has heard positive feedback from customers this week.

    “We have nights where we do group dinners,” he said of his virtual events. “Everybody sits down in front of their computers and we get on Zoom and we have a dozen people that participate in a dinner and they all bring their own food and we have nice chats.”

    Cervini tells WCBS 880 it will host virtual game nights, murder mysteries and more to offer people th outlet that people have been deprived of while social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    “It’s been a challenge to convert over and I think that the best part is that people are screaming to have some kind of social interaction because a lot of people are stuck at home right now,” he said.

    Event prices are cheap, he says, to encourage repeat customers. Some events cost $8, others $10, and varies depending on the type of experience. One can purchase a lifetime membership for $200, according to The New York Social Network website. A lifetime membership includes discounts on gatherings.

    His company has been a catalyst for 90 marriages, including Cervini whose wedding was the 87th to come out of The New York Social Network.

     

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  • Howie Rose Talks Baseball And Coronavirus: ‘I Never Imagined It Would Come To This’

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — It’s supposed to be the day of new beginnings for baseball fans nationwide, but Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I never imagined not only that it would come to this, but we don’t know what the end-game is,” said Howie Rose, the radio voice of the New York Mets on WCBS 880’s In Depth podcast.

    Typically, millions of Americans who have renewed optimism funnel into stadiums nationwide to take in the sights of the freshly cut grass and painted team logo on the field, smell of hot dogs and rich ballpark food, enjoy the taste of a cold beer, embrace family, friends and fellow fans, and get goosebumps at the sounds of the pop of the glove, crack of the bat and Rose’s voice bellowing through the Citi Field public address system as he announces the Mets Opening Day lineup.

    But, this is no typical year.

    “This is something that a Michael Crichton novel might have been be able to forecast, but apart from that, it’s nothing that we ever could have prepared for,” Rose said regarding businesses, sports, restaurants and all group activities being shut down amid the national health crisis.

    Photos: A Look Back At The Last Days Of Shea Stadium And The Birth Of Citi Field

    He has been taking the extra time to read at his home in Florida. A bit of a history buff, Rose is currently reading “Button Man,” a historical fiction novel written by Andrew Gross about a Jewish family brought together at the inception of the garment business in New York City in the 1930s.

    “If anybody’s got any suggestions, throw ’em my way because, as we know, plenty of time to catch up on reading,” he said.

    Photos: 2019 Mets Season Opener | 2019 Opening Day At Citi Field

    Rose recognizes baseball is not the priority for the country or the world battling a novel virus that has killed tens of thousands of people globally.

    “Never mind the health risks and the primary concern being everybody’s physical condition, but how long is it going to be before we can return to any semblance of normalcy?” he pondered. “When does it mean that we have a baseball season, if we have a baseball season? My hope is that we will and my opinion is that any size or any length season is acceptable.”

    Rose tells WCBS 880 his “fantasy” is that the COVID-19 pandemic will pass as quickly as it hit, and fans can come together as a nation on the country’s birthday, the 4th of July, to celebrate, and more than ever, reflect on the freedoms Americans are fortunate to have.

    His famous call of Mike Piazza‘s home run in the first game back in New York after 9/11 has brought joy to Mets fans in helping the City heal. When asked if America’s Pastime can once again provide respite during a fearful time, Rose said, “I have never been so sure of anything in my life as I am of that.”

     

    Listen to the full conversation with Howie Rose on the 880 In Depth podcast on the RADIO.COM app or wherever you get your podcasts.

     

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Neil A. Carousso is the producer in charge of content for the "Mooch and the Mrs. with Anthony and Deidre Scaramucci" podcast, exclusively via the Radio.com platform.
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