Asian-owned businesses receive $10K grants

Ten Asian-owned small businesses received a helping hand from Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology.
At last week’s event at Citi Field, which was hosted in recognition of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, each small business received a $10,000 grant to support their ongoing operations and continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Minority-owned businesses continue to be disproportionately impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Asian-owned businesses encountering prejudice in addition to economic impact,” said Fiserv senior vice president Mia Shernoff. ”Today’s grant recipients are pillars in their local communities.”
Grants were awarded as part of the Fiserv Back2Business program, a $50 million commitment to support small, minority-owned business that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and social unrest.
In addition to the grants, each small business was presented with a Clover Flex handheld point-of-sale device from Fiserv, with built-in capabilities to accept payments, conduct business, and track sales. Businesses also received a customized New York Mets jersey and tickets to an upcoming Mets game at Citi Field.
“We are proud that our home in Flushing is also home to more Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers than any neighborhood in the City,” said Mets president Sandy Alderson. “These grants will bring awareness and assist minority-owned businesses to get back to business.”
The small businesses receiving grants included:
• 3N Convenience – Binita Shah’s convenience store serves customers in the Bronx.
• 886 – Eric Sze and Andy Chuang fuse their Taiwanese heritage with New York City to create an ingenious, exciting restaurant experience.
• Big D’s Grub Truck – Dennis Kum offers food influenced by Chinese and Ghana roots. In 2020, his truck served first responders, hospital workers and others in need.
• Coffee Project New York – Owners Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh not only serve coffee, they teach others how to make it professionally.
• Contra – Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske’s restaurant showcases New York state’s best produce, with a focus on natural wine.
• Erawan Thai Cuisine – Paul Lim’s restaurant has been part of the Queens community since 1999.
• Heart of Dinner – Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai fight food insecurity and isolation among Asian American seniors in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
• Maxi’s Noodle – Maxi Lau’s restaurant serves dumplings and Hong Kong-style foods.
• Pho Che – David Lee oversees this local Vietnamese restaurant that’s a favorite for delivery.
• Wowfulls – David Chan brings Instagram-worthy 1950’s-style egg waffles, a popular Hong Kong dessert, to New York City.
“The past year has been tough for small businesses in Queens, as we were the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic,” said Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “As the most diverse county in America, minority-owned businesses add to the unique character of our neighborhoods, are essential to our local economy and will play a pivotal role in our borough’s recovery.”

More needs to be done for restaurants

If you need any further proof of the toll the pandemic has taken on the restaurant industry, not just in New York City but across the nation, you need look no further than the response to the Biden administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which launched on May 3.
The federal government funneled $28.6 billion into the fund to help struggling businesses in the restaurant industry recover from pandemic-related losses. Grants are capped at $10 million per business and $5 million per location.
During the first week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved 16,000 applicants. Over $2 billion in the first wave of funding started showing up in business bank account earlier this week. That’s an amazingly fast response.
All of those businesses are either owned by women, veterans and individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. That’s because when the fund was created, a 21-day priority period was created to process applications from those business owners.
After the 21-day period, any restaurant owner is eligible for a grant.
That was a noble aim, as those types of businesses are usually already surviving on slim profit margins, and are affected most by severe economic downturns.
The problem is there may not by any money left in the fund after the three weeks is up. Here’s an excerpt from an SBA press release this week announcing the approval of the 16,000 applications:

“Following the 21-day priority period, established by law in the American Rescue Plan Act, all eligible applications will be funded in the order in which they have been received,” it read. “While the SBA will continue accepting applications from any eligible establishment until funds are exhausted, the number of applications received so far could exhaust the funds authorized to fund the RRF.”

That means if you haven’t already applied for a grant, you are probably out of luck. And even if you have already applied for a grant, if you didn’t do it right away, the money could be gone by the time your number is called, especially if you don’t fall into one of the priority groups.
The RRF was a great first step, but it’s clear now it can only be a first step. While $28.6 billion is a lot of money, more is going to have to be done to help the restaurant industry recover from a year of disruptions and capacity limits.

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