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Hewlett Harbor's deputy mayor focuses on small business issues

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Hewlett Harbor Deputy Mayor and small business owner Len Oppenheimer had an opportunity to chat with Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat who represents the Five Towns, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another Democrat, in a June 11 virtual conference about the burdens small businesses have been facing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oppenheimer has owned The Golden Box company in Lynbrook since 1992. It creates custom promotional packaging for brands aiming to increase business. As part of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, he was invited to take part in the conference. 

The program is a $500 million investment from Goldman Sachs that seeks to help entrepreneurs across the country create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital and business support services.

“There’s been so much talk about restaurants, hair salons and gyms, but there truly is a much bigger and diverse population of businesses,” Oppenheimer said. “I don’t think some realize the micro issues that businesses are currently facing.”

Rice, who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District, said in a statement that she remains committed to supporting small businesses throughout the pandemic. “I have voted for relief funding to support small businesses, hospitals and expanded testing during this pandemic,” she said. “I’ll make sure Congress provides appropriate funding for small businesses in New York state, Nassau County and our local municipalities who have taken the lead on fighting this virus.”

The issues Oppenheimer discussed included a potential decline in productivity in the future. “There are added expenses for personal protective equipment as not every employee shows up with a mask on,” he said. “When packing out equipment, we would usually be two feet apart from each other, now we have to be six feet apart. I can only do a third of the production I was doing because of space limitations.” Oppenheimer added that The Golden Box has been producing PPE items since the beginning of April.

While Oppenheimer acknowledged that business has decreased in the past three months, he remains optimistic about his company’s future. “We’ve certainly taken a hit like everyone else; we’re hoping it’s going to come back as people open up,” he said. “I want to give a big shout out to Kathleen Rice as she and her office have been very receptive to concerns from small business owners like myself during this pandemic.”