Chelsea Small Businesses Respond to Bombing

September 22, 2016 • 5 min read
Ahmad El-Najjar

Ahmad El-Najjar


Update! City Council Member Corey Johnson and the New York City Department of Small Business Services are hosting a Small Business Crawl on Saturday, September 24, to support those businesses affected by the bombing. The crawl will take place on West 23rd Street between Fifth and Eight avenues, from 1 to 5 PM. You can

Small Business Crawl ChelseaOn the night of Saturday, September 17, 2016, a homemade bomb placed in a construction dumpster just outside of 131 W. 23d Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood detonated, injuring 29 people. Thankfully, there have been no fatalities. This explosion followed a first bomb that had detonated that morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey, which resulted in no injuries or fatalities. Many Chelsea small businesses are facing lost revenue in the wake of the explosion.

On Monday morning, after New Jersey resident Ahmed Rahami was identified as the main suspect, city officials alerted New Yorkers that he was wanted via an emergency notification network, usually reserved for child abductions and weather-related information. By 10:30 am that morning, September 19, Rahami had been apprehended by police in New Jersey.

As the investigation into the attacks continues, NYC small businesses remain concerned about their own futures.

Chelsea small businesses affected by bombing

While the long-term impact on the Chelsea small business community remains to be seen, there have been some immediate effects. Some stores in the area were forced to close for a day or more, losing business and perishable merchandise. Numerous businesses in the area have reported decreases in sales of as much as 50 percent, attributed to the noticeably fewer customers, both locals and tourists, making their way to the neighborhood. Many Chelsea small businesses are fearful that NYC may face a situation similar to what’s occurred in Paris, France.

Following the series of terrorist attacks in France over the last year, businesses there have seen a significant drop in tourism dollars. The decrease may be as much 11 percent, according to a recent CityLab article, meaning a loss of almost €460 million ($500 million). Parisians have been so concerned about the downturn that an emergency committee on tourism met to explore the issue.

American tourists to France actually increased over the summer, by 0.6 percent. Hopefully this NYC-style resilience will inspire tourists and locals alike in New York City to support the Chelsea small business community. In the meantime, though, local and federal government are making sure that financial help is available to those businesses and residents affected by the bombing.

Resources for businesses and residents affected by the Chelsea explosion

On September 21, 2016, just days after the Chelsea bombing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would make emergency funds available to Chelsea small businesses and residents affected by the blast.

In a statement to press, Gov. Cuomo assured New Yorkers that, although “our government normally operates slowly, here it’s operating very expeditiously.”

Some of the programs in place to make funding and other support available include:

  • The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is working with insurance companies to expedite claims and resolve issues. Affected business owners and residents should visit the mobile van located at the bombing site or call the DFS Insurance Disaster Hotline at 800-339-1759 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM)
  • The Division of Homeland Security Services is administering a grant program for losses not covered by insurance. For more information, contact NY Office of Emergency Management Public Assistance at (518) 292-2293 or go to the Homeland Security website. There’s also a form for applying for a public assistance grant.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has physical disaster loan and economic injury disaster loan programs that determine eligibility for homeowners, renters, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. NY state is working to certify eligibility for businesses affected by the blast. Qualifying businesses can apply for these loans through the SBA’s disaster loan site.
  • The NY State Office of Victim Services (OVS) is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to connect victims to OVS-funded service providers. These providers will help individuals file claims for compensation for expenses including medical bills. Providers will also offer direct services, such as crisis intervention and counseling. Individuals seeking help from OVS can search for a service provider online. For more information, call 800-247-8035 or visit the OVS website.

And a remember, if you find yourself in the Chelsea neighborhood, be sure to stop in and support a small business. Community matters and, as with any disaster, all the assistance helps, no matter how small.

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