May 27, 2020

Fabric wholesaler gets a new kind of COVID relief from Suffolk County

By James T. Madore james.madore@newsday.com 

Fabric Wholesale Direct in East Farmingdale needed a second warehouse to fulfill increased orders for cloth used in face masks and medical gowns and vinyl for face shields.

The warehouse is expected to open in a couple of weeks, about a month after the small business sought help from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency through a new tax-break program.

Fabric Wholesale will save up to $25,875 on sales taxes for the purchase of shelves to store fabric rolls and to install a loading dock at the 480 Smith St. warehouse. The company is the first beneficiary of Suffolk’s COVID-19 Sales Tax Relief Equipment Program for businesses involved in the production of personal protective equipment and medicine.

The program, which offers a sales-tax exemption of up to $100,000 per company, is the first of its kind in the state, according to the New York State Economic Development Council, which represents IDAs in Albany. IDAs in Hempstead and Brookhaven towns have since begun offering the same exemption to PPE manufacturers and drugmakers.

All three IDAs have waived their usual application fees and promised swift decision-making.

“Overnight we’ve seen tremendous demand for certain fabrics that are being used for manufacturing face masks,” said Shawn Singh, chief operating officer at Fabric Wholesale, which was started by his father more than 30 years ago in Manhattan.

“We’ve completely shifted to providing fabrics for PPE, but we don’t have the capacity for this” deluge of orders, he said. “We need more space, more staff, and we need to retool our operations to handle this effectively.”

Singh learned about the COVID-19 sales-tax exemption from Suffolk IDA officials, while discussing another project that he’s pursuing in the county. He said the IDA approved the COVID-19 aid in four days. Read the full article at Newsday here…