FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2009
DEPUTY MAYOR LIEBER ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF NYC BUSINESS EXPRESS AT ANNUAL MEETING OF THE DOWNTOWN FLUSHING TRANSIT HUB BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
New York City's Businesses in Real Estate, Construction and Rental and Leasing Can Now Access One-stop Business Express Online Site to Streamline Permitting and Licensing
Making It Easier for Small Businesses to Launch and Grow in New York City is Part of City's Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan
Deputy Mayor Lieber's remarks as prepared follow:
"Flushing is a special place - where else in New York City can you enjoy the best dim sum this side of the Ocean, shop for everything you would need for an entire wedding celebration and grab a bubble tea to cool down after a hot day? It's a pleasure to be here with you all this afternoon to recognize all that the small businesses in Flushing do.
"The New York Times wrote just 10 days ago that the recession seems to be bypassing Flushing - that with all the bustle and activity on Main Street, you could be forgiven for forgetting that we are in the midst of a terribly tough time. But I think all of us in the room know that that is not exactly true.
"Yes, Flushing is doing better than many other neighborhoods in New York City. It continues to attract visitors looking for a unique experience in the middle of New York City - and continues to attract New Yorkers looking for products, foods, and spices that you can only find here. But business is still down across the board and everyone is worried about making ends meet, keeping the lights on in the shop and attracting new customers.
"I've spent the last three months talking to hundreds of small business owners - from South Beach in Staten Island to Sunnyside, Queens - to hear what you're really experiencing and how the City can help. This isn't the first time that we've had to deal with a downturn, and I'm often asked as I'm speaking to compare this to previous downturns.
"I could spend hours talking about how the investments we've made in security and safety, sustainability and education, make this City different than it was in any previous time; or that the Capital Markets, or the international banking system or a hundred of other factors are different today than they were in each and every one of those other downturns. But previous downturns do offer an important lesson. They've always ended, and New York City has emerged stronger than before. And we will again.
"But, knowing that we will emerge from this doesn't mean we can afford to sit by passively and simple hope for recovery to happen. When the storm clouds began to gather, we set in motion our Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to help New Yorkers find jobs today - by supporting business; set the stage for new jobs - by diversifying the economy, and create green and affordable neighborhoods that will attract talent to our city over the long term - and businesses like yours are a huge part of that.
"We want to help you access the tools you need to stay open and we want to improving conditions so that those entrepreneurs who find opportunity in challenge, can get new businesses started. In my travels to meet with businesses - there are certain things I hear over and over again - and one of those is concern about capital.
"Businesses need to be able to access capital to keep the lights working, the doors open and to meet payroll even during these leaner times. So the NYCEDC working with national and community banks started a Capital Access Loan Program to help banks start lending more money and get lending activity back up and running.
"And to help small businesses continue to invest in talent, we have created 'NYC Training Grants'. These funds go straight to the employers, who also put up money of their own to train their workforce. That way, the on-the-job training focuses on the skills that businesses really need. In the last 12 months, we've given $3 million in grants to more than 30 employers, training almost 2,000 workers. And in the next year, we expect to contribute an additional $4.5 million to employer-funded training programs.
"To help business owners find the right workers, we've put our Workforce 1 Career Centers into overdrive. When we came into office, a 'good' year was one in which we placed 500 New Yorkers into jobs. Last year, we had more than 17,000 job placements; and this year - despite the downturn - we've already reached more than 5,000 job placements, and are on target to place a record 20,000 by the end of 2009.
"To make it easier for businesses to start, open, and expand, we're expanding Business Express - a one-stop business express online site for all permits and licenses. In fact, we just launched three new sectors on NYC Business Express - real estate, rental and leasing and Construction - so that now 85 percent of all the businesses in the City can access the tools they need for licenses and permits at the click of a button.
"We want to remove barriers to entrepreneurship and small business - that's why we're working with Albany to reduce or repeal the Unincorporated Business Tax. This tax is hurting our small businesses and by repealing it we will be able to put thousands of dollars back in the hands of small businesses and entrepreneurs at the time they need it most.
"While we're focused on helping support businesses through these challenges - we're not letting up or backing away from our commitment to invest in our neighborhoods and infrastructure - creating jobs, and setting the foundation for our future growth. Clearly, a critical component of that is supporting our central business districts like Downtown Flushing. This is one of the most dynamic and active transportation nodes in the City. In fact, more pedestrians come through Flushing's Main Street than anywhere else in the City outside of Times Square. And central to the growth of Downtown Flushing, is the development of Flushing Commons. We've had some delays - but we are committed to creating a real destination here with a state of the art YMCA, affordable housing, destination retail, open space and parking.
"And just across the Flushing River, we are moving forward with the redevelopment of Willets Point. In 2002, when we first started working with the Downtown Flushing Taskforce, you made it clear that redevelopment Willets Point was a high priority. And now we're making critical headway transforming these 62 acres into a true neighborhood with affordable housing, retail, open space, a convention center and hotels and a new school. The plan received City Council approval in the fall and we have already released the Request For Qualifications for the design and construction of the offsite infrastructure. We expect work to begin here this calendar year.
"We began prioritizing investment in infrastructure seven years ago - and we're looking to maximize the federal stimulus so that our economy can get the shot in the arm that it needs. We've already announced projects accounting for more than $700 million of stimulus funding that will go towards transportation projects creating 32,000 jobs, green building retrofits creating 19,000 jobs, housing development upgrades creating more than 3,200 jobs among other programs that support our initiatives to help New Yorkers avoid foreclosure and keep our street clean and graffiti-free.
"These are challenging times, but I'm focused on recovery and growth so that New York City will come back stronger than ever. It always has.
The City's Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is a comprehensive strategy to bring New York City through the current economic downturn as fast as possible. It focuses on three major areas: creating jobs for New Yorkers today, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city's economy, and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. Taken together, the initiatives that the City has launched to achieve these goals will generate thousands of jobs and put New York City on a path to economic recovery and growth. To learn more about the plan, visit nyc.gov. Recently, the City has announced:
Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958
Laura Postiglione (Small Business Services) (212) 513-6318