President's Blog: Reflections on Sandy - Seven Months Later

Monday, June 10, 2013 / Published in Featured News,
President's Blog: Reflections on Sandy - Seven Months Later

"The difference we made – all of the difference we can continue to make – is because of the people that work here at NYBDC."

- Pat MacKrell, CEO of New York Business Development Corporation

As Superstorm Sandy began to move out of our area and we could see what havoc it had created, our first thoughts were, of course, to our employees here at NYBDC. We immediately let them know that we were here for them and would do everything we could to support them and their families.    For the most part, our employees were spared from the worst of the storm. For a few, it took some time to recover but they were able to cope quite well.
We were able to get our offices up and running pretty quickly, with the exception of our Manhattan location which went a couple of weeks without phone service and a few other essentials like heat and water.
Once we were able to determine that our employees were ok, we immediately turned to our borrowers to make sure they knew that we were here to help them. Obviously, their first thoughts were about how to recover from the storm and making sure that their own families and employees were safe but we knew that, pretty quickly, they would begin to worry about the future of their businesses.
Our team quickly began reaching out to these small businesses to reassure them that we would be there for them. 
Our concern was that the NYBDC borrower might be – in general – a little more affected by this storm than other businesses. We knew that the burden – both financial and emotional – of rebuilding a business, replenishing inventory and purchasing new equipment could devastate some small businesses. We worked with nearly every one of our clients to ensure them that we would do whatever possible to help them. Initially, we delayed loan repayments and helped where we could but we knew that there was more to be done.
Within a week, we knew that we had to do more. Largely because we had had similar kinds of discussions after Storms Lee and Irene had hit Upstate New York, we knew what we had to and we had a well developed plan to help. That was really the skeleton for the program that came into being. Through our relationships with the City of New York, the State of New York, Goldman Sachs and the New York Bankers Association, we were able to assist in the rapid development of loan and grant programs to provide funding to those New York businesses affected by the storm…Our experience as small business lenders was
In less than two weeks, we had the programs up and running and were getting loans to the businesses that needed them in fact we accepted our first loan application on November 7, 2012…just nine days after the storm.
I’ve been asked how we were able to do it. There’s really two key reasons – the people at NYBDC went beyond anything we could have asked of them to get loans processed and money out the door to those who needed it. A month after Sandy, if I came into our Albany office on any weekend day, I would see dozens of our folks working away to get loan applications processed and out the door.
The other thing that got us through was the mutual trust and respect shared by the funding partners and the government agencies.   I can honestly tell you today that we were processing loans and money was going out the door before everything was finalized…we were absolutely confident that the program would come together and that our partners would step-up…more than a little unconventional but appropriate for the need at hand.
Essentially, in the end, a $30 million loan fund was created to help New York small businesses impacted by Sandy.
NYBDC is often an important cog in the wheel to help small businesses grow and prosper in New York. We firmly believe that these businesses drive New York’s economic growth.
I’m proud every day for the role that we play in New York but I’ve never been as proud of this company or – especially – the people that work here as I have been in seeing the passion and concern with which we were able to help fellow New Yorkers over the last six months.
In the end, that’s why we’re here.