When water crept five blocks into Port Monmouth and filled Alise Pipitone's house, basement and garage, it not only wrecked her home but also threatened to snuff the life out of the C&G Electrical contracting business.
Ten inches of water ruined the home-based business's equipment and killed the phone, fax line and the Internet service.
Painting contractor Bob Crane of Voorhees & Crane Painting, also in Port Monmouth, has a similar story. He said he lost $10,000 worth of equipment in the flooded basement of his home-based business, and insurance won't pay.
Both joined about 40 others Wednesday at the "Business After Sandy" Resources Forum at the Middletown Township Library, sponsored by the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. The forum was set-up to introduce local merchants and service people to representatives of federal, state and county agencies that offer assistance to businesses.
Their big takeaway? Learning about the services offered by the Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College, right in their own town.
"I think the biggest thing I got out of this is learning about the resources at Brookdale, knowing there is someone who knows how to help me navigate, step by step," said Pipitone "I would suggest that to anyone else, in my position."
Brookdale was one of several "Business After Sandy" resource agencies that explained how they help merchants and service providers. They answered questions and handed out cards.
Here's who attended, and some highlights on what they offer.
One of 11 regional state SBA Centers. The mission to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. They offers education at a nominal fee, free one-to-one counseling, and help finding financing or capital to start a business. To help businesses afffected by Hurricane Sandy, two additional SBA counselors have temporarily joined the staff.
Have to relocate? This office will help you find a new location in Monmouth County. They will mine demographic info, give you marketing lists, leads and surveys, explain website optimization and steps in to help if you are having trouble with municipalities or zoning regulations. Also, you can keep up to date with the announcements through the email subscription page.
Did you have to close your business for a period of time and your business revenue reduced? You are eligible for low-interest loans from the government's primary source for funding, replacing and rebuilding businesses, non-profits, homes and apartments. Rates go as low as 1.6%
- Businesses and non-profits up to $2 million can apply for physical property losses, real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Deadline is Dec. 31, 2012.
- Small businesses and most private non-profits may apply for up to $2 million for "economic injury" for time you were closed, to help pay your fixed debt and salaries. No physical damages necessary to qualify. Interest Rates are as low as 3% for Non-Profit Organizations, 4% for businesses of any size. Loan repayment terms up to 30 years. Deadline is July 31, 2013.
This agency has a ready pool of 28,000 vetted applicants looking for work in the Jobs4Jersey bank. It can save businesses money by recruiting people for you -- from laborers to PhDs. They offer incentive programs for hiring people, up to $4,000 per hire, and even offer you their office space to interview their picks.
Runs a resource-rich "one-stop shop" portal and call center (1-866-534-7789) that can be a first point of contact for business owners seeking help. The agency tries to funnel resources to the business owner by taking a holistic approach to each individual seeking help, and proactively suggesting resources they might not have thought of. A special Hurricane Sandy section on the portal includes Temporary Hubs for Telephone and Internet Service; a comprehensive list of utilities servicing the state, with contact names; Statewide Contracting Opportunities; Sandy Micro-Loan Programs, and a Disaster Legal Services Hotline with volunteer lawyers.
Among its many roles, this agency has a consumer enforcement protection role. They will intervene to sure insurers follow regulations and honor the terms of their contracts and has already handled over 1000 inquiries. Denial letters don't worry them; they show you how to restart claims. Call 888-541 1900.
Believe it or not, FEMA wants to see its federal contracts go to local businesses first. Register, and then check the very active FBO.gov website every day to learn about business opportunities.
The federal agency provides individual assistance to individuals who have lost homes, and public assistance to municipalities for infrastructure rebuilding.
Serves Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan, Middletown Township and Union Beach. Provides networking, promotion, and educational forums like this one. A new post-Sandy resources Facebook Page, Beacon of Wisdom, was launched. Also represents small business interests in Monmouth.