East Harlem Business Recovery Convertible Loan Program Awards First Loan

Sahara Boutique was awarded a $7,500 forgivable loan.

Date:    Friday, March 20, 2015

Sahara Boutique, located at 72 East 116th in East Harlem, was awarded a $7,500 forgivable loan to assist in offsetting costs related to damages incurred by the business as a result of the March 12, 2014 gas explosion that occurred in East Harlem. Proceeds from the loan will be used to reimburse the business for the replacement of damaged equipment, fixtures and other leasehold repairs sustained as a result of that explosion. The entire loan amount will be forgiven providing the business remains open for a period of at least six months after the date of the loan closing.

The East Harlem Business Recovery Convertible Loan Program is funded by the New York State Empire State Development, the Harlem Community Development Corporation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (“UMEZ”), corporate donors and strategic support from the office of New York State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez. The program is administered by UMEZ.

To be eligible, applicants must be located in the area bounded by between East 115th Street and East 118th Street and between Lexington Avenue and Madison Avenue. They must also have been in operation on March 11, 2014, the day before the explosion. The approval process for the program requires the completion of a short application, copies of the prior year personal and business tax returns along with IRS verification of those tax filings, a copy of the Business Certificate, a valid commercial lease and proof of unreimbursed paid expenses incurred as a result of the March 12, 2014 gas explosion.

Sahara Boutique is the first local business affected by the blast to have received a loan through the East Harlem Business Recovery Convertible Loan Program. Depending on the severity of damage to an eligible business and its location, the size of eligible forgivable loans will vary from up to $7,500 or up to $20,000.

Since its founding in 1996, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) has been a singular catalyst in the revitalization of Upper Manhattan. UMEZ’s investments, upwards of $220 million to date, have provided funding to numerous organizations, businesses and institutions that drive the local economy, create jobs, and add to the vibrancy of New York City. Significantly, these funds have also been leveraged to generate over $1 billion in private capital investments into Upper Manhattan. UMEZ continues to be a leader in reestablishing the area as one of New York’s most dynamic cultural districts through the creation of the Cultural Industry Investment Fund, established in 2004.