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Transcript: Mayor Adams, SBS Commissioner Kim Kick Off ‘Small Business Month’ by Announcing $22 Million Saved in Fines, Violations for NYC Small Businesses Since Beginning of Administration

May 4, 2023

Commissioner Kevin Kim, Department of Small Business Services: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for being here. My name is Kevin D. Kim and I'm the commissioner for New York City Department of Small Business Services. It's truly an honor to be here today with Mayor Eric Adams, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer is the co-architect of the Economic Blueprint Recovery Program and mayor, deputy mayor, we have great news. The plan is working. It's a huge success. We have almost 97 percent of all the jobs that were lost during the pandemic now recovered. We've gotten 33,000 businesses that have started up in the past year. This is a great time and the plan is working.

We also want to acknowledge our other elected officials here, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. We've got Council Members Julie Menin and Lynn Schulman, whose district we're in today. We've got the Queens Chamber of Commerce president, Tom Grech, and so many other leaders and advocates for small businesses. Thank you all for being here today. And why are we here today? We are here to celebrate the opening of another small business, Leidylicious Cakes. And we're also here to officially announce, for the first time ever, New York City Small Business Month.

Now, what does that mean? Nationally, we celebrate National Small Business Week, the first week in May. Last year, SBS went on a five borough, five-day tour to celebrate and commemorate National Small Business Week by bringing resources to immigrant communities in each of the five boroughs. But this is New York City and five days is just not enough to highlight our small businesses, so we are declaring today, thanks to Mayor Adams, New York City Small Business Month. And what we're going to do during this month is we're going to go to the five boroughs again. Every day, we've got a packed schedule with Mobi, our RV there, where we go to meet small business owners where they are because they all can't come down to One Liberty Plaza for our services.

We're going to have a financing fair in Industry City in Brooklyn. We're going to have a workforce development fair up in the Bronx and so many more other programs. We encourage everybody to look on our schedule on our website and come and participate. Now, why it's so important for everyone to be supporting small businesses, data shows that if you spend $1 at your local mom and pop store, 70 cents of that circulates within that community. That's to support your neighbors, that's to support your community, your commercial corridors. Promote public safety, keep the lights on at the different stores.

So, that's something that we want every New Yorker to understand that when you shop at Leidylicious, or if you shop at your local hardware store, local toy store, you are supporting your own community. Finally, I'm here because we want to celebrate one of the initiatives that Mayor Adams and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer came up with called NYC BEST. That's the Business Express Service team. I just want to point out and give a shout out to my NYC BEST team right here. And you could see Leidy giving the loudest applause because she started…

Leidy Cardona: The best, yes.

Commissioner Kim: She started her catering business in 2018 and then in January she discovered our NYC Best team and she called us and she said, "I want to fulfill my dream of opening up my own retail store." And so what did our team do? They kicked into action, helped us with the licensing permitting process, got this beautiful store open in as quick of a time as possible, and that's why we're here to celebrate the grand opening today. We have a vegan cake here as well for the mayor later.

And Leidy is not alone. We have helped 2,200 businesses, unique businesses in the past year save over $22 million in fines and violations just by the work of our SBS NYC BEST team. So, can we give him another shout and a round of applause. Finally, I just now want to turn it over to our mayor who goes by many titles. He's got the Get Stuff Done Mayor, he's sometimes self-proclaimed Nightlife Mayor. But today and every day he's our great Small Business Mayor, and so let's turn it over to Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, thank you. Thanks so much, commissioner. I am just amazed at how you and your team, how serious you are about this and you having so much fun doing it. As we look across the city, you have assembled together some amazing folks who understand what it is like to pursue the American dream. I think nothing is more part of our American experience than having someone open a small business based on their observations and based on what they believe the city actually needs. I'm going to slice into that cake in a minute. But deputy mayor, you took this up from the beginning. I remember when you put the task force together to tell every agency to look at how do we expedite, how do we look at fines? Which ones are outdated and how do we give cure periods?

So, you just made it easier for businesses and the dollar amount means a lot. Cause every dollar we take away from a business, it impacts on their ability to hire, their ability to expand their businesses. And we don't want to do that. And I think that at the final analysis, we need to start displaying how much we've saved in fines to allow these dreams to come true. And so congratulations. I'm so excited for you and your ability to open your business and we are pleased to be here at the open of Leidylicious Cakes. Now how could you not buy something with a name like that, Leidylicious? Hold on, hold on, hold on. Officer, have her or him get out of the road. If they come get one of your sweet treats, they would be more kind.

Just come and shop, spend some money. And so in my first month in office, months in office, I signed the Small Business Forward executive order, which cut red tape and removed bureaucratic boulders from small businesses across the five boroughs. It was a real initiative. I remember when agencies came to Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, they tried to give her a watered down version. She said, "Nope, you got to go back and get it right." And they did just that. And I'm really pleased with the success of it. The 2,200 businesses that went through our New York City BEST initiative, expediting permit and licensing processes and helping small business save, as it was mentioned, $22 million by avoiding fines and violation.

Leidy Cardona was able to open the doors of Leidylicious Cakes because of New York City Best, and we are going to do our best to continue to allow small businesses to grow and thrive. Thrive in the city. And you can see the recovery. 99, 98 percent of our businesses that we lost pre-pandemic have returned. The city is just thriving and people often say that, you know, the city's coming back and I say over and over again, the city's not coming back. The city is back. The way to bolster the recovery is to come out. Leave your homes, come out, shop and spend money in the city.

I think the report that came out last week — What's up, officers — that came out last week said it all. Loneliness is the equivalent of smoking several packs of cigarettes a day. We have to engage New Yorkers to come back out. We have to engage New Yorkers to just enjoy the city again and allow these businesses to open and thrive. So, congratulations. Thank you, SBS. You guys are SBS on steroids. I want to thank my electives who are here as well for just continuing to do the right thing. Can I get a proclamation? Did you put any cream on that?

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards: [Inaudible] you lick it off.

Mayor Adams: On behalf of the City of New York, whereas small businesses are the economic heart and soul of our city, this year's celebration is an excellent opportunity for all New Yorkers to reaffirm our commitment to supporting and uplifting small businesses throughout the five boroughs, to get together. We will continue to work to forge a more vibrant and united small business sector that reflects the incredible entrepreneurial spirit that defines the five boroughs as well as build a better, brighter future for all. Eric Adams, mayor of the City of New York. Congratulations to you.

Cardona: Thank you. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Oh man, I love New York. Come buy some cake.

Cardona: Thank you so much, mayor.

Commissioner Kim: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Now I have the privilege of introducing Leidy Cardona.

Cardona: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you so much for being here. And I just want to tell you a little bit of my story. Leidylicious is a realization of a dream I had since I started baking at 9-years-old.

Mayor Adams: Wow.

Cardona: And opening these doors, these new doors surrounded by friends, family, and Mayor Adams and the Department of a Small Business Services make the experience even sweeter. Thanks to the help I received with license permits from the SBS New York BEST team, my vision became a reality even faster and I'm happy now to share it with all of you during the Small Business Month and beyond. Thank you so much for being here and I hope to make your day and celebrations or event a sweet experience. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: I like that, I like that. I got my electeds here. I just want you guys to join in, Borough President Richards and my two councilwomen, please say a few words.

Borough President Richards: Well, Queens get the cake today. But truly an honor to be here and thank you, Mr. Mayor. This is the second day the mayor is in Queens. Yesterday we had the privilege of opening up a new 145 unit, 100 percent affordable housing building in Astoria, so it's always good to have the mayor in Queens. I think this mayor has been in Queens more than any other mayor in my memory. But happy Small Business Month. Thank you to our Commissioner Kim, who also comes from Queens.

Commissioner Kim: That's right.

Borough President Richards: And considering how Queens' economy runs on our small businesses, I don't think you could have picked a better borough today, Mr. Mayor. This is the world's borough and our economy here looks like the United Nations. Name a country and I can show you the block where we've got authentic restaurants, shops and stores run by immigrants from Queens. So many of these mom and pop locations were devastated by Covid-19 though, and when I came into office, Queens' unemployment rate was hovering somewhere around 23 percent, Mr. Mayor today we can say we're at 4.9 percent and Leidylicious is another one of those businesses that are going to help us to continue to grow businesses here and to employ individuals.

I also want to thank your administration because we worked extremely closely coming out of the pandemic, especially with the Department of Small Businesses and EDC to create the Queens Small Business Grant, which was a $15 million grant funded generously by the Mets Foundation where we were able to give 750 businesses, with no strings attached, grants to keep their doors open. That would not have been possible without the collaboration with the agencies here. And that's why I'm here, happy to be here today to not only celebrate Small Business Month, but to applaud SBS and the New York City BEST program. One thing that unites all our small businesses are frustrations around being nickeled and dimed with fines and violations that could have been easily resolved with assistance.

Saving our small businesses more than $22 million is nothing to sneeze at. That's 22 million that's going to wages for our workers. That's $22 million that will help keep the lights on and the doors open because now more than ever, we need to be supporting our small businesses. We need to make offerings hands up, not coming to them with our hands out to squeeze even more money out of them. Forget McDonald's today. Go grab dinner at the mom and pop restaurant there on the block. Forget ordering a cake from Carvel or a grocery store. Get it right here at Leidylicious. In closing, we all have a role to play in boosting our economy and supporting our small businesses. It's something we can and all must do. Thank you. Shop Queens, shop New York City. What does it say? Yeah, shop New York City, but most importantly, shop Queens. Congratulations. Congratulations. Congratulations.

City Council Member Lynn Schulman: Welcome everybody. I'm so happy for Leidylicious and the New York City BEST team, let's give them another round of applause because they made this happen. It's so funny because I saw that this bakery was opening up and I was going to come visit myself because I'm very invested in our small businesses, which are the foundation of our economy and it's so important for small businesses like this one to open. But you beat me to it, Mr. Mayor. This mayor and Deputy Mayor Springer and borough president. Everyone has been so amazing in making sure our small businesses thrive with the New York City BEST program and also Small Business First. And I'm so glad that this is Small Business Month, this is just amazing.

I make sure that I go and I'm going to ask everyone here, as the borough president said, to go and visit your local businesses to eat, to shop. And there are so many, particularly in this district. This is the heart of Forest Hills and a vegan cake — I want you to know that I'm very invested in vegan cakes and this mayor has made it very clear about how we need to have nutritious meals and also desserts. So with that, thank you very much and congratulations and I will be coming back here to buy some things.

City Council Member Julie Menin: Great, thank you so much. I'm Julie Menin, I'm chair of the City Council Small Business Committee. I'm thrilled to be here with my colleague and my colleagues, District Council Member Schulman, and wonderful to be with you Mr. Borough President. I really want to thank the mayor and the commissioner and the deputy mayor for their incredible work supporting our city's small businesses. In the next month we're actually going to be voting on a bill that I have that is codifying the mayor's executive order to lower fines in 40 different categories. Earlier this year, the mayor signed a bill that I had to create a one-stop-shop portal that is going to consolidate every city license and permit into one website, one app.

That is really emblematic of the partnership that we have between the mayor and the council on these important issues. In addition, earlier this year, the mayor announced $5 million going to the city's 35 smaller bids to market and promote small businesses. So, this is so exciting and I couldn't be more proud to be here at today's announcement because this is really about saving money for these small businesses. In closing, I will just say I'm a former small business owner. I used to own Vine Restaurant downtown, so this is personal to me and the work that you're seeing here today that is being done by the city is really helping these small businesses to move forward. Thanks so much.

Mayor Adams: Thank you, thank you. Let’s a few on topics before we do off topics?


Mayor Adams: Okay, good. That means good job. I hope some of you spend.

Borough President Richards: Can you share some of your cake?  Sharing is caring. He's back here.

Mayor Adams: Okay. How are you, brother?

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Move over. Can we move over so they can... Okay brother. Let’s do a few off topics.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. [Inaudible] Jordan Neely, lots of people have compared this case to the Bernard Goetz case from previous years. Do you see any similarities between the Bernard Goetz and this one [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: I have been extremely clear that the district attorney, the Police Department, they're doing their investigations and I'm going to respect that. There are many layers to this, so let them — so let the process follow its course. And so get engaged with comparisons and where we are, where we aren't. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to let the investigation run its course.

Question: You've taken a lot of criticism for comments you made last night on CNN already like saying that you're minimizing this, that you know should come out with more strongly-worded remarks on it. What do you have to say to those folks [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: I took the train today from the Day of Prayer service. And the passengers that stopped on the train and spoke with me saying, "Mayor, thank you for allowing the process to take its way." And so there's going to be those who are going to criticize no matter what's done. I have a responsibility for this entire city and I have faith in the criminal justice system and I'm going to let the process take its place and those who believe that I should do something differently, I respect that. But I have to make the right decision for the City of New York.

Question: [Inaudible] make a stronger statement about this, and the governor today kind of revised her statement from yesterday saying his family deserves justice. When do you feel like there'll be enough information?

Mayor Adams: When I feel there is enough information. All the other electeds, they have a role to play and I have a role to play. The police is doing their investigation and the district attorney is doing his investigation, and I respect the process.

Question: If a situation like what happened with Jordan Neely were to occur today where you have sort of a seemingly emotionally disturbed person on a train, what should people do in a [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: Well, every circumstance is different, but we need to be extremely clear that from day one of this administration I focused on we cannot have people with severe emotional illnesses on our subway system. And there have been many people who have pushed back against my Subway Safety Plan and my outreach. We should not wait until something happens with someone and then react. We should be proactive and that is what we are pleased about what we have done, 4,000 people we have taken off to get services.

Some have returned, but the number of engagements that we have participated in really showed how we had foresight in this issue. You can't have people on the system that need care and ignore them. Others decided to ignore them. I said no to that and I'm asking everyone to join me and help me as we give people the care that they need. And this really highlights why this is important.

Question: Mr. Mayor, just to shift gears for a second, I wanted to ask you about Title 42. Why you think you're the only Democrat to specifically call out the White House and the Biden administration to say they need to be doing more to manage this crisis?

Mayor Adams: No, I don't think I'm the only one. I think that if you speak with Mayor Lightfoot, she has voiced just clear outrage at what is happening in her city. If you will speak to my other mayors, they've shared the same. I don't think I'm the only one. It's just that when you look at New York, New York has received the brunt, close to 60,000 of those who are coming to the city to participate in the American Dream and we're not giving them the resources.

So, it's not that I'm alone. I think it's unfortunate that we have ignored the voices of others. But I'm very clear. I speak with my colleagues all the time. They are furious about what is happening and it's just wrong. It's wrong what we're doing to cities. And it's not about trying to attack the administration, it's about protecting New Yorkers. I have an obligation to make sure New Yorkers receive the resources they need to manage this crisis that we are facing.

Question: [Inaudible] time had passed from the start of the incident [inaudible] police arrival, it was about 15 minutes or so. [Inaudible] why did it take them so long…

Mayor Adams: I'm glad you raised that because when I read that in the paper, that was really bizarre that it took 15 minutes. And then when I spoke with the police commissioner and I spoke with the detectives, then I asked to get the body cam and I realized that they were there in six minutes. I said, "Well, where did the 15 minutes come from?" Someone blurted it out and all of a sudden it became the facts. And so we have to be very careful that facts is based on the actual facts and not what we want to create them to be.

Police officers were on the scene in six minutes. Not 15 minutes, in six minutes and I want to commend them for their response and how they handled the situation upon arrival. And I just want to be clear, it did not take police officers 15 minutes to get there. When I first read that, that was too bizarre to me. I was a former transit cop. Listen, I did this as a career. I know what it is to be in the subway system. I know what it is to have to respond to a job, and those officers did a great job in doing so. Thank you.


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