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Gillibrand calls on SBA for assistance during NHL lockout

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Buffalo: Gillibrand calls on SBA for assistance during NHL lockout
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With the NHL's season canceled through mid-December, it's no longer just the players taking the hits. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the lockout's effect on local business and how one U.S. Senator is hoping to help.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — "It's going to crush us,” Lou Billitier said. “It's going to crush all the small businesses."

Now in the 11th week of an NHL lockout, the Sabres' lack of ice time means a lack of cash for local business.

"The Sabres probably account for 10 to 15 percent of our business, at least,” the Chef’s Restaurant owner explained. “And with the lockout we're losing revenue weekly."

That's just from a lack of local customers; Embassy Suites over on Delaware Avenue has lost thousands in cancellations from some big name guests.

"December, we had four teams that we're scheduled, some longer stays like the Chicago Blackhawks were three day stays with us,” General Manager Bryan Drew said. “We're missing that and it hurts a lot."

And the hurt could continue. With no end to the lockout in sight small businesses are preparing themselves for the worst and now Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is reaching out to the U.S. Small Business Association for assistance to help ease the blow.

In a letter sent Monday Gillibrand said:

"I ask that the Small Business Administration work with my office in engaging affected business owners to address their loss, and to make them aware of any business-relief programs that may be available to them. In particular, I urge you to consider hosting a workshop on available assistance for small business owners during challenging situations such as this..."
It could be welcome assistance for business owners left out in the cold at what would be the height of hockey season.

"We thrive on this,” Billitier said. “This is what makes us go and helps us pay our bills so that would definitely be a huge help for us."

Officials estimate the area has lost out on more than $2 million in hotel revenue alone since the start of the lockout.

No word yet on which businesses would be eligible for assistance.

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