The coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on New York’s economy.

Although the state has seen job growth in certain areas, the state is still climbing out from record unemployment.

Acting Commissioner of Empire State Development Eric Gertler started off the joint legislative budget on Tuesday emphasizing how 2020 was the year no one was prepared for.  

"Nobody could have predicted that the global economy would come to a standstill, that borders would be shut and industries would be closed to prevent the spread of a deadly pandemic," Gertler said.

This sentiment was echoed by lawmakers who detailed the hardships businesses faced all across the state.

"Businesses have endured mandated shutdowns," Assemblyman Harry Bronson said. "They have had capacity and operational restrictions placed on them and costs associated with COVID-19."

"No one ever thought we would see New York City, let alone New York state, come to a grinding halt," state Senator Diane Savino said. "But we did. It was necessary."

Senator Savino continued to question during the hearing: How will the state direct relief to restaurants and small businesses impacted by the pandemic?

"We all know that the restaurant and hospitality industry has been crippled by this pandemic and many of them are never going to recover," Sen. Savino said. "They don’t need more loans. What they need are grants."

Gertler said the state is proposing a Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax credit that would be included in this year’s upcoming budget.

It would give tax credits to restaurants that were forced to close if they were in a designated red, orange, and yellow zone.

The proposal outlines a $5,000 tax credit per employee or up to $50,000 for each restaurant.

"Our heart goes out to these businesses, the workers," Gertler said. "And as you know restaurants are not just places of work, they also add to the culture, the life, the diversity of what we offer in New York State and what makes New York so special. So you’re right we do need to help restaurants get back to work."

Gertler said Empire State Development will be releasing a centralized database of all the state’s economic development deals in the next few weeks.