The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Nation & World

October 23, 2013

Some small businesses still wait for Sandy grants

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

"How much do you need to prove?" McMullin said. "They saw the damage, they've seen the estimates."

The McMullins rebuilt but couldn't reopen until two weeks after Labor Day, missing the summer, when they make 85 percent of their annual revenue. They raised money for the repairs by selling one of their two other stores and cashing in savings and their four children's college funds.

Officials of New Jersey's Economic Development Authority, which administers the grants, were not available to be interviewed despite repeated requests by The Associated Press, according to Virginia Pellerin, a spokeswoman for the agency.

"It's just an incredibly busy time and the availability of our senior leadership is very limited," Pellerin said in an email.

The development authority has been advertising the grants. But many business owners are waiting for money. Dina Long, the mayor of Sea Bright, says she knows of just one business in the borough that has received a grant. Officials approved 102 grant applications statewide as of Tuesday, and 712 have been submitted and are being reviewed, Pellerin said in an email.

A $250,000 grant from natural gas utility National Grid helped Madelaine Chocolates, located in New York City's Rockaway section, reopen after it was flooded by 44 inches of water.

Salt water, mud and rust damaged the equipment in Madelaine's 100,000-square foot building. Walls, floor, ceiling and electrical equipment had to be repaired or replaced. The company lost nearly 2 million pounds of chocolate — 175,000 pounds of finished products, about 500,000 pounds of unfinished chocolate and 250,000 pounds of liquid chocolate.

"The place was devastated," said CEO Jorge Farber. "We couldn't go through the door at the beginning because everything was strewn all over the place," Farber says.

He estimates costs from damage and lost revenue at $50 million. Besides the grant, he's gotten an SBA loan and money from his finance company and used personal assets. The $15 million Farber pulled together paid for cleanup and the repair of enough machinery to resume partial production on July 1. Madelaine turns out 60 percent of its normal capacity of 100,000 pounds of chocolate a day. It has rehired 100 of its 425 workers.

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