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Hurricane Sandy and Small Business: One Year Later

Hurricane Sandy and Small Business: One Year Later

By Jeanne Hulit, Former Acting SBA Administrator
Published: October 29, 2013 Updated: October 29, 2013

One year ago this week, communities and small businesses across the Eastern seaboard experienced the devastating and tragic effects of Hurricane Sandy, one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

We know that work remains to be done, and the Obama Administration continues to stand with the communities affected by the storm.

At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), our job is to make sure that small businesses have the tools and the resources they need to succeed at every stage.  This includes helping America’s communities and small businesses recover from disasters through direct loans to businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes, as well as to homeowners and renters.

Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy, SBA and our disaster assistance team stepped up to the plate to support the economic recovery of the affected regions. In the year following the storm, the SBA has approved $2.4 billion in low-interest disaster loans to 36,641 homeowners, renters and businesses.  This includes 32,530 home loans for $1.9 billion and 4,111 business loans for $485 million.

SBA’s efforts to help revitalize the post-Sandy economy directly impacted businesses like FIKA (Swedish for “taking a coffee break), a chain of pastry cafés in New York.  Owner Lars Åkerlund returned to his financial district store after the storm to find four feet of standing water on the first floor.  The property losses totaled nearly $580,000.  Åkerlund got an SBA disaster loan and was able to reopen his store, rehire 28 employees, add 12 more staff, while also opening a new location in Tribeca.

Meanwhile, small businesses rebuilding in the aftermath of Sandy have also been able to take advantage of free counseling, training and technical assistance from SBA’s resource partners—the Small Business Development Centers, (SBDCs), SCORE, and Women’s Business Centers (WBC’s), through expanded services provided by a $19 million funding package approved by Congress.  

The funding, awarded in two phases, supported long-term business recovery and expansion through innovative collaborations between state and local organizations to help small business owners build stronger and smarter.  Entrepreneurs got help with business continuity strategies, with a focus on developing strategies to be prepared for the next big disaster.

SBA also hosted “business matchmaking” events in the areas hardest hit by Sandy to connect small businesses with contracting opportunities from commercial, federal and local buyers. To date, more than 25 percent of all Sandy-related prime contract dollars obligated in the Federal Procurement Database System are going to small business.

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of America’s identity and the key to our economic strength. It’s what built the greatest economy in the world, and it’s what continues to drive our small businesses as they recover and rebuild from disaster. One year after Hurricane Sandy hit our shores, SBA continues to help our business owners and communities repair and rebuild to be stronger and more resilient than ever before.



About the Author:

Jeanne Hulit

Former Acting SBA Administrator

Jeanne Hulit is the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.