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Opinion

The City is Helping Small Businesses Now More Than Ever


bishop mmv nyccouncil

SBS Commissioner Bishop, the author, right (photo: @NYCCouncil)


Earlier this week, an op-ed appeared in Gotham Gazette entitled "How the City Hurts Small Businesses." This column reminded me of a great saying by New York’s late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” The truth is that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Small Business Services are working every day to support small, neighborhood businesses across the five boroughs. A few facts:

  • Our Small Business Support Center has provided more than 12,000 services to small businesses since its launch last year.
  • Small business fines are down 40% since the mayor took office.
  • Since 2014, we’ve helped small business owners access $169 million in capital to grow their businesses.
  • Restaurants that take advantage of our services open three months faster.
  • We’ve served more than 12,000 foreign-born entrepreneurs.
  • Over the last year alone, we’ve provided nearly 1,500 free, on-site consultations to help small business owners avoid costly fines and penalties.

The City offers these, and many other services because we recognize that part of what makes New York City special is the diverse mix of small businesses that give our neighborhoods character. We care about the local hardware stores, beauty salons, and pizza shops where the owners know your name and are invested in their communities. We are moving government out of the way of small business owners, cutting red tape, providing new legal protections, and leveling the playing field for minority, women, and foreign-born business owners.

Every year, our team at SBS reaches thousands of small businesses through an array of free, accessible services. We help small businesses in every phase of their development as they start, operate, and grow. This support helps small business owners cut costs and boost their bottom lines, offsetting some of the competitive pressures that exist in New York.  

We help small businesses to write business plans as they are starting up, learn how to negotiate a commercial lease, and understand City rules and regulations. We keep them running with free educational resources, legal consultations, and compliance services to avoid costly fines and penalties. And we help small businesses to grow through programs to help them secure financing, sell to the government, and other tailored services for minority, women, and immigrant-owned businesses.

This year SBS also launched a citywide program called Love Your Local, which encourages New Yorkers to share their favorite independent small business through social media and on an interactive map on SBS’ website. So far, over 2,000 businesses were shared for other New Yorkers to discover. In addition to this free publicity, these businesses are eligible to apply for grant funding to help them better compete.

The author of the op-ed also questions the value of the City’s work with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). At SBS, we provide technical assistance to communities that wish to form a BID. We help make sure that BIDs are accountable and formed through ground-up community engagement. There are BIDs across New York City that are both big and small, providing supplemental sanitation services, merchant organizing, and neighborhood beautification to strengthen existing small businesses. The 74 BIDs that operate across the city include 35 low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and each of them is governed by a locally-controlled nonprofit board of directors.

The daily work of BIDs makes a difference for small businesses and local residents alike. If you drill down and look at the nuts and bolts of what BIDs are doing, it is work that benefits everyone. On an average day, BIDs across the city:

  • Collect 10,800 bags of trash.
  • Remove 233 incidents of graffiti.
  • Distribute 10,036 marketing materials promoting small businesses.
  • Interact with 5,752 visitors who keep shops bustling with activity.

We are proud of the work we are doing each and every day to support stronger businesses and build stronger neighborhoods across the five boroughs. I encourage all small business owners to take advantage of the free services that SBS offers. We can help your business start, operate, and grow, and we are also here to provide assistance to communities that choose to form a BID. More information on our services can be found by visiting our website or by calling 311.

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Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. On Twitter at @NYC_SBS and @GreggBishopNYC.

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