Sen. Tim Kennedy asked Empire State Development on Friday to begin forming emergency plans to help small business that might not survive another long-term lockout. The NHL on Friday canceled all games through the end of the November, meaning Buffalo-area businesses will have to without at least five more gamenight takes.
Friday's move also ensures there won't be a full 82-game schedule for the 2012-13 season.
"Instead of doing the right thing and coming together to resolve their differences, the NHL owners and players are stuck thinking only about their own pocketbooks," he said. "The NHL lockout is putting small businesses, working families and fans in the penalty box. The lockout needs to end before more damage is done to our economy and community."
Kennedy specifically asked ESD to:
- Partner with the New York Power Authority and local energy providers to create a one-time utility grant for businesses. This would be 30 percent of the utility cost or $2,500, whichever is less. These grants would help businesses pay bills regardless of how much revenue they are bringing in.
- Develop an emergency hardship grant to help businesses make up for lost revenues.
- Offer interest-free financing for business owners to pay short-term debts that they would otherwise be unable to meet due to the lockout.
Buffalo-area businesses say such measures would be a big help.
"While the players and the owners are fighting, downtown Buffalo is losing," said Mark Croce, owner of the Statler Lobby Bar and Buffalo Chophouse. "Not only will my businesses take a hit, but my employees will take a hit."
"I hope the NHL can work something out for the fans’ sake and for the sake of all of these downtown businesses – who have a lot lose," said Bryan Drew, GM of Embassy Suites in the Avant building. "Our hotel typically hosts the visiting teams’ players, coaches and support staff, not to mention often 40 to 50 fans of the opposing team."
Kennedy said there is no word from the state what, if anything, will come of this request.
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