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State offers lease workout assistance to small businesses

New York’s small businesses have a new program to help negotiate lease workout agreements.

The state earlier this month launched the New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. The program will provide small businesses and their landlords with informational resources and pro bono assistance to help both parties reach mutually-beneficial lease workout agreements. The service is available to all small businesses and landlords statewide.

Throughout the next year, the partnership has the capacity to serve thousands of small businesses, officials said.

“Small businesses are the backbone of any strong economy and it is critical that we work to find ways to support them during these difficult times,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy has been nothing short of devastating, and through partnerships such as this we can help to alleviate the burdens many business owners are facing. While a moratorium on commercial evictions is currently in place, this new public-private partnership will help provide an additional level of stability for small businesses and ensure they are able to play a role in helping build New York’s economy back better than before.”

Empire State Development will partner with the state Bar Association and Start Small Think Big, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting small, under-resourced entrepreneurs with high-quality professional services. Start Small will offer pro bono legal services from its network of more than 1,000 attorneys to commercial tenants and landlords looking for lease amendments to cope with the impacts of the pandemic. The state Bar Association will support the recruitment and training of additional volunteer attorneys.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately created new and unforeseen economic challenges for small business owners and landlords across the state. Working together with Start Small Think Big and the New York State Bar Association to establish this partnership, our goal is to help commercial tenants and landlords reach mutually-beneficial agreements by engaging in productive discussions and taking advantage of the free legal assistance provided through this program,” said ESD Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler.

The Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership website includes information on the lease renegotiation process and details the different types of lease workouts available to help small businesses cope with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Those interested in pro bono assistance to initiate a lease renegotiation are encouraged to review and complete the partnership’s intake form. After completing the form, each small business will receive an email detailing an estimated timeline for placement with a volunteer attorney. Once matched, the volunteer attorney will email the applicant to schedule an appointment.

“We are excited to partner with New York State and the New York Bar Association to help small businesses during this unprecedented time. Start Small Think Big helps small business owners grow and sustain their businesses through free legal, financial planning, and marketing services. We support a diverse network of entrepreneurs, including those who are of color, women, members of disadvantaged groups, and/or low-income by connecting them to lawyers and other high-quality professionals volunteering their time to provide free one-to-one support and the expertise needed to solve their businesses’ legal, financial and marketing issues,” Start Small Legal Program Director Alex Stepick said.

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New York’s highway conditions rank 44th nationwide

New York state’s highways rank among the bottom 10 nationwide for performance and cost-effectiveness, a new policy study from Reason Foundation shows.

Reason Foundation’s 25th Annual Highway Report ranked New York 44th, a one-spot improvement over last year. The state received its best marks in overall fatality rate and urban fatality rate, ranked fifth overall in both categories. North Dakota ranked first in the report.

Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-controlled highways in 13 categories, including pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities and spending per mile.

The Annual Highway Report is based on spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government for 2018 as well as urban congestion data from INRIX and bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2019.

New York state ranked 48th for maintenance funding disbursements per mile and 44th for total disbursements per mile. New York’s highways ranked 39th for capital bridge disbursements per mile and 34th for administrative disbursements per mile.


In terms of road conditions, New York ranked 40th for rural interstate percent in poor condition and 42nd for urban interstate percent in poor condition. The state ranked 40th for other rural roads in poor condition and 46th for other urban roads in poor condition.

New York ranked 39th for its structurally deficient bridges and 29th for its urban area congestion.

“To improve in the rankings, New York needs to reduce its spending and improve its interstate pavement condition. New York is in the bottom 20 in all four disbursement categories and both interstate pavement metrics. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds New York’s overall highway performance is better than New Jersey (ranks 50th), but worse than Connecticut (ranks 35th) and Vermont (ranks 30th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “New York is doing worse than comparable states like Illinois (ranks 37th) and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th).”

In the overall rankings of state highway performance and cost-effectiveness, the Reason Foundation determined that North Dakota, Missouri and Kansas have the nation’s best state-owned road systems. In terms of return on investment, New Jersey, Alaska, Delaware and Massachusetts have the worst-performing state highway systems, the study found.

The 25th Annual Highway Report finds the general quality and safety of the nation’s highways has incrementally improved as spending on state-owned roads increased by 9 percent, up to $151.8 billion, since the previous report. Of the report’s nine categories focused on performance, including structurally deficient bridges and traffic congestion, the country made incremental progress in seven of them.

However, the pavement condition of the nation’s urban interstate system worsened slightly. More than one-quarter of the urban interstate mileage in poor condition is in just three states: California, New York and Wyoming.

The study also found that drivers in 11 states spent more than 50 hours per year in traffic congestion, with commuters in the three most-congested states — Delaware, Illinois and Massachusetts — spending more than 100 hours per year in traffic congestion in 2019.

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New York’s manufacturing sectors get an F in new report

New York State’s manufacturing sector has received a letter grade of F in an annual report from Ball State University.

The 2020 Manufacturing Scorecard from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research analyzes how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics.

Overall manufacturing health by state. (Source: Ball State University's Manufacturing Scorecard 2020)
Overall manufacturing health by state. (Source: Ball State University’s Manufacturing
Scorecard 2020)

Overall, New York went from a score of D- in 2019 to F in 2020. The state maintained its C-grade for logistics industry health and its expected fiscal liability. In terms of human capital, the state’s score fell from a C to a C- and its tax climate dropped from a D- to an F.

New York maintained its D score in worker benefits costs but fell from a C- to a D in its global reach. Productivity and innovation fell from a C+ to a C. The only category the state scored well in was its sector diversification, which maintained its B score.

The report’s authors suggest that the production of goods holds particular interest in the U.S. economy.

“Manufacturing firms are not necessarily reliant on local demand for goods and are therefore footloose,” the authors state. “Their location depends more on local factors such as the quality and availability of the labor force, transportation infrastructure, non-wage labor costs, access to innovation technologies and the cost of doing business.”

The categories in the report were chosen based on those that are most likely to be considered by site selection experts for manufacturing and logistics firms. States that fared well overall include Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and South Carolina, which earned scores of A. Other states that earned Fs include Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and New Mexico.

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