NEW YORK – The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) today launched proactive business education support, as outlined in the 30 recommendations of Small Business First,the City's comprehensive plan toreduce the regulatory burden on small businesses in New York City. Through a partnership with the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA), SBS will send trained client managers to neighborhoods across the five boroughs to provide businesses owners with targeted education informed by data showing the specific business needs in a given neighborhood – including top violations, areas of non-compliance, new business growth data, 311 complaints, and more. Based on the data, proactive support can include door-to-door engagement with business owners, local informational events, and detailed guides to help small businesses better understand City regulations and avoid future violations.
The educational outreach effort launched today in the Bronx, where SBS client managers provided tailored information to 100 small retail businesses in Westchester Square, which included customized compliance checklists and translated materials. The client managers were joined by SBS Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and Lisa Sorin, Executive Director of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District. The City will visit businesses in all five boroughs this summer, with more regular data analysis and proactive outreach beginning in the fall.
"Through Small Business First, we are committed to better reaching business owners across the five boroughs by delivering tailored information and assistance right to their door, and utilizing data to focus our educational outreach on the businesses and neighborhoods that need it most," said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "The on-the-ground customized support provided by SBS client managers will help New York City business owners avoid fines and violations, so they can spend more time running and growing their business, and less time navigating government."
"This effort will put targeted, neighborhood-specific data into the hands of SBS client managers as they help small businesses understand and comply with City regulations. The Mayor's Office of Operations is committed to doing everything we can – from project management to analytics support – to ensure that all small businesses continue to thrive and grow," said Mindy Tarlow, Director, Mayor's Office of Operations.
"MODA is all about turning analytics into action. We look forward to working with SBS to develop tools to quickly identify and respond to local business conditions with smart, tailored, data-driven insight," said Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer and Director, Mayor's Office of Data Analytics.
"Small businesses in Westchester Square have been faced with fines and violations that could have been avoided had local business owners had a better understanding of City regulations. This is why we are delighted to have Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and SBS client managers kick off their Small Business First outreach in the Bronx with Westchester Square merchants," said Lisa Sorin, Executive Director of the Westchester Square BID.
"Since small businesses are so vital to the economic development of our city's communities, it is thrilling to see a proactive partnership between the Department for Small Business Services and the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics in bringing a tool like Small Business First to Westchester Square," said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. "As Chair of the Committee on Technology, it is exciting to see the ways in which data analytics can be used to make a real impact in our neighborhoods. There is a wealth of city data at our fingertips, but it takes a program like Small Business First to really turn that data into something useful for a small business owner. I look forward to working with Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and Chief Analytics Officer Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki to spread the word about this useful tool."
"I've consistently taken the position that if we're not reaching mom and pop businesses at their storefronts, we're not really reaching them at all. That's why I'm so glad that SBS is hitting the street to demystify the violations that lead to the most common fines and fees," said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Small Business. "Combining SBS' passion for small businesses with their expert knowledge and neighborhood focused outreach cannot miss. This is a wonderful step forward and I look forward to seeing it expand across the city."
Small Business First's ongoing proactive support builds upon educational efforts provided by other agencies, such as the Department of Consumer Affair's "Business Education Days" where inspectors visit businesses to provide information and answer questions, and the Department of Transportation's outreach related to new commercial bicyclist laws. Through Small Business First, proactive business education outreach will be more targeted to address specific needs based on data related to violations and compliance within specific neighborhoods.
Businesses can start taking advantage of Small Business First services today. Small Business Service client managers are available to provide one-on-one assistance to small business owners who need help navigating the City's regulatory process. Every Tuesday, the Department of Buildings offers Small Business Owners' Night, where businesses can receive guidance about matters related to the Department of Buildings. Information on more than 900 federal, state, and city licenses, permits, and certifications is also available online in one location at www.nyc.gov/business. For more information on Small Business First and resources, visit www.nyc.gov/smallbizfirst or call 311.
Small Business First is a $27 million dollar investment through FY2019 to simplify the regulatory landscape many small business owners confront in the launch and operation of their businesses. The City's effort is focused on improving communication between business owners and City government; streamlining licensing, permitting and tribunal processes; providing support and resources to help businesses understand and comply with City regulations; and ensuring assistance is accessible to all communities across the five boroughs. Ultimately, the reforms outlined in Small Business First will make it easier to achieve compliance with City regulations, saving businesses time and money. The initiative is led by the Mayor's Office of Operations and the Department of Small Business Services, with more than 15 partnering City agencies.
Small Business First includes 30 initiatives developed as a direct result of conversations with stakeholders, advocates, small business owners, neighborhood and community leaders, and elected officials representing a diverse set of city neighborhoods. In total, more than 600 unique comments and ideas were solicited, detailing the specific needs of small businesses in communities across the five boroughs.
Free services are available to help small businesses in New York City succeed at every stage – whether they are starting, operating, or growing. Services include business courses, access to capital, recruitment, pro-bono legal assistance, employee training and more. For more information on the free business services available, visit www.nyc.gov/sbs, call 311, or visit an NYC Business Solutions Center, located in all five boroughs. For more information and the full list of Small Business First initiatives, visit www.nyc.gov/smallbizfirst.