Small Business Saturday more important than ever amid COVID pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- This year's "Small Business Saturday" may be the most important ever, as many small businesses are hurting through the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York City small business commissioner will be touring the five boroughs on Saturday, including in Marcy Square, encouraging people to get out and support local businesses whether in person or online.

In celebration of the holiday, on Saturday State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Harvey Epstein introduced the "Manhattan Mom & Pop Tax Relief Act."

The legislation will suspend the collection of commercial rent tax during the COVID-19 pandemic from small businesses with a base rent of less than $1 million per year.

"Mom and Pop businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, as any New Yorker can tell from the skyrocketing number of storefront vacancies in Manhattan," Hoylman said. "It's unfair that only small businesses south of 96th Street are forced to pay the Commercial Rent Tax, so we're throwing approximately 5,500 of them a lifeline with the Manhattan Mom & Pop Tax Relief Act."

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This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an initiative to provide interest free loans of up to $100,000 to the city's small businesses.

"We have got to help our small businesses in any way possible, the city has done everything from grants and loans, we did that before even the federal government," de Blasio said. "To giving out free PPE to keep stores and their customers safe to to opening up streets and sidewalks for outdoor dining and open storefronts for retail, all things that make a difference."

Business owners can apply for a piece of the $35 million program beginning on Nov. 30.

And local officials aren't the only ones calling to support small businesses. On Saturday, Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda took to Twitter to show his support.

A report from The Partnership for New York City found that a third of the 230,000 small businesses could be driven out of businesses as foot traffic and tourism grinded to a standstill during the pandemic.

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The small business commissioner will stop in Flushing on Saturday and then make their way to Marcy Square around 1 p.m. handing out PPE and encouraging people to come out.

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