Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot, Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today launched a new set of free tools to help small businesses in New York City use digital technologies and social media to grow their businesses and create jobs. The new set of resources, offered online and at NYC Business Solutions Centers throughout the five boroughs, is called the Small Business Digital Toolkit. Through a partnership with NYC Digital, the Department of Small Business Services will offer small businesses free training and resources to digitally attract customers, conduct business online and market their products or services through the use of e-commerce technology. Small businesses will have the opportunity to learn how to leverage social media more effectively with help from Mashable; launch a website through how-to guides featuring contributions from Tumblr and Weebly; and incorporate search engine optimization and advertising techniques with help from Google. The launch of the Digital Toolkit comes as the update to the Digital Roadmap: Progress and Innovation is released. The Roadmap is a comprehensive plan outlining NYC's digital successes and a look ahead to new initiatives to spur the development of the local tech and digital sector. The Mayor was also joined by Mashable Senior Vice President Stacy Green, Mark Coatney of Tumblr, William Floyd of Google, Weebly Vice President of Business Development Nick Dellis, and Eileen Auld, Regional Director of Citi Community Development, State Senator Malcolm Smith and Council Member Leroy Comrie at the NYC Business Solutions Center in Jamaica, Queens.
"When I started my company, our biggest challenge was finding new customers – that's always crucial for small businesses," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The digital toolkit will help New York City's entrepreneurs with the resources they need to engage more consumers online. The web can open up worlds of opportunities for these businesses, but many of them presently lack even their own website, let alone a social media campaign."
"Under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, New York has become a leading technology center, and with this new program we will ensure that more small businesses can harness the power of digital technology and social media to grow their businesses," Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said. "New York City's small businesses are increasingly competing not only against companies from around the five boroughs and the region, but also from around the world, and technology is a critical competitive advantage in the global marketplace."
"New York City's small businesses are some of the most digitally savvy in the world, but there is always more that we can do to equip them for success," said Rachel Haot, New York City's Chief Digital Officer. "We are thrilled to join SBS in introducing the new Digital Toolkit, and thank our partners at Google, Mashable, Tumblr and Weebly for their guidance and contributions. The digital curriculum builds on the Administration's landmark milestones over the past year in realizing our goal of making New York City the premier digital city in the world. I am thrilled to join Mayor Bloomberg in releasing the update to New York's digital roadmap, which illustrates powerful progress and a commitment to continuing innovation."
"At the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, we continue to leverage City resources to help New Yorkers in new and engaging ways," said Commissioner Oliver. "The Digital Bootcamp exemplifies how partnerships between City agencies can bring about useful change for residents and businesses alike."
"NYC Business Solutions has made great strides in helping entrepreneurs and small business owners through business courses, access to capital and more," said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "As the digital landscape continues to play a critical role in business, we are now expanding our services to help small businesses use technology to compete and grow."
"The power of technology to help businesses and individuals thrive in the digital age is unquestioned," said Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Rahul N. Merchant. "And with public-private partnerships like Digital Bootcamp, and many others outlined in the City's updated Digital Roadmap, we're better connecting New Yorkers to the infrastructure, services, and data required to make their mark on today's technology landscape."
"Over the last decade we have witnessed the incredible growth taking place within the City's digital sector, as well as the important role this sector is playing in the 21st century economy," said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. "By providing critical resources and training to prepare New York City's small businesses for this changing digital landscape, the Bloomberg Administration is once again demonstrating its commitment to growing the City's economy and ensuring that we remain globally competitive in the future."
"We need to ensure our city's small businesses are equipped and able to remain competitive in a digital media world," said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "With assistance from companies like Mashable, Google, Tumblr and Weebly, we will help local small businesses grow and bridge the digital divide. The services provided though the Small Business Digital Toolkit will allow New York City businesses to both advertise to a wider audience and give them the potential to compete globally by providing them with access to the online marketplace. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot, Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh, and Deputy Mayor Robert Steel for addressing the needs of these businesses and working with the City Council to take even more concrete steps toward our goal of making New York City the tech capital of the world."
"In today's market place, it is important that today's businesses have a strong online presence. Tools that will allow NYC Small Businesses to operate more efficiently and be more competitive to increase their bottom line are welcomed initiatives," said State Senator Malcom Smith. "I congratulate the Mayor and his administration for their continued commitment to facilitating the growth of small business in NYC, which is the backbone of our economy and creates needed jobs for city residents. Digital Bootcamp represents an exciting technological innovation capable of yielding an acceptable return on investment."
"Small businesses are the engines that drive our city's economy," said Council Member Leroy Comrie. "To maintain our place as the leader in the global marketplace, the city must always look to create innovative ways to expand business opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Walsh, SBS and the digital media and technology teams on their efforts to help businesses become more efficient and adept at using social media, e-commerce and search engine optimization to enhance their ability to do business. The launch of the Digital Bootcamp will provide a boost to Queens to coincide with the emerging tech and digital sectors in the borough."
"Digital Bootcamp will provide small businesses with the training and weapons they need to increase business and market their products in ways that were not even possible a generation ago," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "Using social media and technology to widen their reach will benefit their own businesses and increase jobs and opportunities that benefit the entire city. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and his Administration and all the partners who worked in a combined effort to provide this latest in a continuing series of programs to assist small businesses on the road to success and prosperity."
Courses for the Digital Toolkit begin in September and will cover a range of digital topics relevant to small businesses seeking to build their digital presence. Topics will include the fundamentals of creating a presence online with discussions about websites, digital and mobile payment systems, e-commerce and search engine optimization as well as how to market a business through digital advertising and social media. The inaugural course will be taught by Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot on Thursday, September 20 from 2:00-5:00 PM at the NYC Business Solutions Center, at 168-25 Jamaica Avenue, 2nd floor, in Jamaica, Queens. Subsequent courses will be taught by NYC Business Solutions instructors at additional center locations. All courses will be available for free at the City's Small Business Solutions Centers. Small businesses interested in signing up should visit NYC.gov or call 311.
In addition to the curriculum, NYC Digital and SBS, in partnership with Mashable, have introduced a series of online How-To guides that focus on launching a website, advertising online, and using Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter.
"Mashable is thrilled to partner with the City of New York and leading technology companies to create the Digital Toolkit for small businesses," said Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder, Mashable. "Our headquarters are located in New York City and we know firsthand how valuable these enterprises are to their communities and the city as a whole. As a company that has been built on a passionate community, we are thrilled to share our expertise and insights on social media and business. This is an exciting partnership that embodies Mashable's mission of empowering businesses through technology."
"Ninety-seven percent of Americans go online to search for local products and services, but over half of small and medium sized businesses in New York are not online," said Bonita Stewart, New York-based Google Vice President of Sales. "In order for these companies and the economy to grow, it is essential to bridge this gap by helping them to increase their visibility online. We are thrilled to partner with the City of New York to offer tools and resources to help small businesses succeed online and reach new customers."
"It's critical for small businesses today to have a robust web presence, to both grow their customer base and to establish credibility as people turn to the internet to vet everything from service providers like plumbers to restaurants," said David Rusenko, co-founder and CEO of Weebly. "The challenge that many small business owners encountered in the past was that it was too expensive to hire a web designer, and too confusing to build a site on their own, so 60% of small businesses still don't have a website. Weebly was developed with the goal of making it easy and cost-free to build a beautiful and professional website. We're honored to partner with Mayor Bloomberg's Digital Toolkit to empower business owners with free and simple tools to quickly get up and running online."
The Digital Toolkit was sparked in part by a recent survey conducted by SBS at NYC Business Solutions Centers to gauge interest on the part of small businesses in parts of the potential curriculum. The survey found that small businesses are most interested in website development and social media and that the demand for integrating digital technology in small business is high. Ongoing surveys will be conducted to evaluate small businesses' future needs as well as to help measure the success of the program.
"As a New York City printing manufacturer in 2012, we are competing on a national and global level because of the internet," said Raquel Salas, owner of Big City Graph-X & Printing, Inc., located in Long Island City. "In the past, we relied mostly on tri-state sales. Now Big City Graph-X & Printing is competing with online superstores. In order to compete and keep the business in New York City, we need effective social media and E-commerce sites. I am excited to have been part of the conversation and have high hopes for the City's new Digital Toolkit initiative. It is not only a way to increase our sales and visibility, but it is an intricate part of creating jobs and economic growth in NYC."
In addition to the new tools and resources launched through the Digital Bootcamp, SBS, Citi Community Development and five local nonprofit community organizations have joined together to form a new coalition called the New York City Small Business Technology Coalition, which will help expand technology use by reaching out to underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners. Citi is providing a total of $225,000, including $125,000 to launch the Coalition and $100,000 to continue Citi's capacity building support for SBS's NYC Business Solutions Centers. Citi is also donating refurbished computers to each of the five participating nonprofits to enable them to deliver on the Coalition's goals.
The Coalition's first project will be to expand SBS's existing training in popular accounting software, with which entrepreneurs can streamline their administrative practices, save money on consulting costs and provide the basis for strategic decision-making and capital acquisition. The five participating nonprofits – East Harlem Business Capital Corporation, the Local Development Corporation of East New York, the Queens Economic Development Corporation, the West Brighton Community Local Development Corporation and the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation – will host satellite offerings of the courses at their facilities. Details and registration information will be posted soon at www.citicommunitydevelopment.com.
"By expanding the adoption of technology this new Coalition can empower underserved entrepreneurs so they can thrive in the modern economy," said Eileen Auld, Regional Director for Citi Community Development. "Citi is pleased to continue its leadership role in increasing the capability of small businesses to serve their customers and create meaningful jobs."
NYC Digital is part of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, which consists of the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NYC Digital, and NYC Media – the official TV, radio and online network of the City of New York. NYC Digital aims to realize New York City's potential as the world's leading digital city. With 80 percent of its objectives complete, New York City's Digital Roadmap: Progress and Innovation demonstrates the strides the City has made to date, driven by a vibrant technology industry, a strong social media presence, infrastructure improvements and historic investments in education. Highlights from the year include:
- Connecting more New Yorkers to free Wi-Fi through public spaces, including 26 park locations, 6 subway stations and 11 payphone kiosks. Through the City's cable franchise agreements, Wi-Fi will grow to an additional 32 public parks through a $10 million commitment by Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. In addition, the City is also supporting more broadband choices for residents, serving 80,000 low income families with high-speed internet.
- Passing landmark open data legislation to open all of the City's data by 2018, releasing nearly 900 data sets in real-time APIs, and hosting two hackathons, resulting in 5,000 person-hours dedicated to solving civic challenges and nearly two dozen website prototypes and applications.
- Increasing the City's digital reach each month to more than 5.4 million individuals through social media, smartphone apps, SMS programs, newsletters and NYC.gov. The City's social media audience doubled to 2.4 million with the launch of the central NYC Gov social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and Foursquare, providing New Yorkers with an easy way to stay informed on the most critical information from City government in emergencies and everyday life. In addition, the redesign of NYC.gov is underway and will be designed with a user-centric approach, making the site more intuitive, usable and efficient than ever before.
- Supporting New York City's digital sector through recognition of homegrown startups, expansion of the City's broadband connectivity for businesses to 600 buildings in the next two years and partnerships with technology companies like Facebook, Buddy Media and Shapeways to develop youth employment programs that encourage diversity in the workforce and help young students discover careers in the industry. Along with the launch of the Made In NY Digital Map, highlighting nearly 1,000 local technology companies hiring this very moment, the City also applied for the .nyc top-level domain to truly embrace its digital future and encourage more companies to grow and thrive in New York City.
- Introducing three new Applied Sciences campuses, including the Cornell-Technion Innovation Institute on Roosevelt Island, the new NYU/NYU-Poly Center for Urban Science and Progress, and the Academy for Software Engineering – all together, a $2 billion capital investment for building more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instruction in New York City. The City has partnered with the public and private sector on these groundbreaking education initiatives that will create an estimated 400 new businesses, 22,000 construction jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.