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Wary About Taking on Loans, Hoboken Business Owners Urge Local Shopping

Many businesses are still closed in town, while business owners struggle to open their doors for holiday shopping.

Power has been switched on and some normalcy has returned since Sandy hit, but many business owners in Hoboken are still struggling.

While some businesses are simply closing or moving, others are fighting hard to stay in Hoboken. And the only way to do that, said restaurant owner Eugene Flinn, is to spend money at home.

"The biggest stimulus for us," said Flinn, the owner of Amanda's and Elysian Cafe, "is ourselves."

Flinn, as well as about 150 other business owners, attended a meeting hosted by the city, FEMA and the Small Business Adminitration on Wednesday night at Hoboken High School. FEMA and SBA were there and are offering loans for businesses to get back on their feet.

But borrowing more money is a daunting proposition for many business owners.

"It's adding insult to injury by borrowing more money," said Anthony DeGennaro, the owner of River West Plumbing and Heating Supplies, located in uptown Hoboken.

"It was a struggle with the economy as it was," DeGennaro said. And that was before 4,5 feet of water engulfed his store, destroying computers, the floor and much more.

"We are not going to recoup just by borrowing more money," Flinn said.

About 27 food establishments in Hoboken were still closed as of Tuesday, said the city's Health Inspector Frank Sasso. Before opening, those places will have to be inspected again.

One of those places is Rogo's Bar & Grill at Seventh and Willow. Owner Ed Rogovich is still renovating the place after two feet of water ruined the floor and walls.

While unable to open just yet, Rogovich said he is determined to stay in Hoboken. On Wednesday night, he attended the meeting to see if he could apply for a loan.

"Bills are still coming in," Rogovich said. He said he applied to FEMA and was looking into an SBA loan. "I'm trying to get up and running as quickly as possible."

Rogovich, who didn't have flood insurance, said repairs could be as much $50,000. He added that he lost at least between $5,000 and $6,000 in product.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer also attended the meeting on Tuesday, vowing her support for local businesses and promising to help them get back on their feet.

"We want you to stay in Hoboken," she said, "for many, many years."

At least one business owner, however, is leaving. Anastasia Kamper has On Tuesday, she attended the meeting to find out if there was any funding from FEMA available.

Zimmer said the city will partner with the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce in the coming weeks to encourage Hobokenites to shop local and spend money at home.

franksinatra November 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
What don't you understand about the connection of rent control to helping our businesses? Encouraging landlords (and many buildings have apartments and commercial space) to fix up their properties so our town doesn't become permanently run down has everything to do with supplying much-needed customers so our shops and restaurants can stay in business. Is it extreme to favor an easing of our completely over-the-top rent laws? 99% of the country doesn't have any rent control at all. It appears I'm in the mainstream and you're off on the far edge of the fringe. You want the city to keep dictating rents for apartments. You're suggesting that the city also set rates for commercial rents. Where would you stop? Why not control food prices? Why not have the city tell the A&P and Kings what to charge? Food is at least as important as housing. See how silly your support for government coercion is? And we know all about Ravitch. She was a big education reformer for years, then fell in love with high-level teachers' union official and threw all her reform principles out the window. Not sure if she's living happily ever after. You can hate charter schools all you want and fight to make sure kids continue to get bad educations, but some would call that extreme.
demosthenes November 20, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Towns without parking shortages do it. Free parking means nothing in a town where you can't find a spot. What works elsewhere doesn't necessarily make sense in Hoboken and vice versa.
demosthenes November 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I think the point is that whatever your views on rent control, it has nothing to do with shops deciding to close their doors due to the losses they suffered as a result of the storm. Trying to twist this into a rent control discussion is an insult to the very real people suffering very real financial hardship due to this terrible storm. Please stop.
PeoplePlease November 20, 2012 at 08:28 PM
But sadly...nothing unique will be done... :(
MadisonMonroe November 20, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Now is exactly the time to reconsider issues such as rent control. When a natural disaster occurs, a smart government uses the opportunity to rethink its antiquated policies in all areas. New Orleans had some of the worst schools in America and it was a godsend to those children that the schools went in a different direction after Katrina. Some good needs to come out of disaster. Do you really believe Diane Ravitch wouldn't have sent her child to a pre-Katrina school? If the Hoboken city government thinks that financially struggling residents and/or businesses need help with food, it doesn't order A&P to give that food away for free or at a discount. Yet that is exactly what the city does with rent control. It tells homeowners (mom & pop as well as the Barrys) that they - not the city - have to give away their product (an apartment) at a steep discount. Now is the time for the city to say all the taxpayers will underwrite cheap rent, not just those who happen to have an apartment in their home. Then everyone will have a stake in the process and will take a harder look at just who gets the rent control freebies. (yes, freebies). Unlike food stamps, rent control is not means-tested. How is that fair?

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