Wednesday, June 20, 2018


The following is the text of Commissioner Bishop's testimony.

"Good morning Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Velázquez and Members of the House Small Business Committee. My name is Gregg Bishop and I am the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. I thank you for this opportunity to testify before the Committee and share some of the great work and best practices that we are seeing in New York City. At SBS, we aim to unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting them to quality jobs, building stronger businesses, and fostering thriving neighborhoods. Unlike other City agencies that work with businesses, we do not enforce regulations, but rather provide the necessary services to help them start, operate, and grow. We provide services to New York City's 230,000 businesses through our network of seven NYC Business Solutions Centers and eight Industrial Business Service Providers.

At SBS, we know that small businesses are essential to the local economy and character of our neighborhoods. Despite the fact that small businesses face challenges due to the unprecedented growth New York City has seen in recent years, our small businesses continue to grow. Over the last ten years, the number of businesses in New York City has increased by 10%, according to the U.S. Census County Business Patterns report. That is why I believe it is critical for municipalities to incorporate small businesses into their economic development strategy because it not only helps small businesses grow but also provide their city with good jobs, vibrant neighborhoods and a better quality of life.

Many small businesses struggle to access credit, so SBS provides free financing services through our business centers. We work regularly with more than 40 different lenders, the majority of which are Community Development Financial Institutions and other alternative financial institutions. CDFIs play a critical role in our efforts to provide financing to businesses that are not able to access traditional bank financing. Since the start of this administration, SBS has connected approximately 1,800 businesses to $155 million in financing.

As we see businesses grow in NYC, the city has also implemented necessary regulations and worker protections. Regulations are important to ensure health and public safety, but they should be fair and not overly burdensome to small business owners. In 2015, the Mayor launched Small Business First, a major multi agency effort to reduce the regulatory burden and help businesses understand and comply with City regulations.

To make it easier, we built a state of the art NYC Business Portal to serve as a central repository of key business information and a single place for business interactions with the City. On the NYC Business Portal, a business owner can create an account and link their licenses, permits, inspections, and violations from City agencies onto one dashboard. In 2017, there were more than one million visits to the NYC Business Portal.

A key focus of our work is ensuring our programming is accessible to all New Yorkers, including women entrepreneurs. Through extensive research and outreach, we developed WE NYC, a series of programs to address the most common challenges women entrepreneurs face. Most recently we launched WE Fund: Crowd, a City-led crowdfunding program that helps women entrepreneurs' access affordable capital and start businesses. WE NYC has been a great success and other cities have taken notice; with Boston recently launching their own Women Entrepreneurs Boston program modeled on WE NYC.

Growing up with my grandmother in Grenada, who supported our household as a woman entrepreneur, I came to understand first-hand that business ownership can empower a family and support greater economic opportunity for future generations. With approximately six out of ten New Yorkers being either immigrants or children of immigrants and nearly half of small businesses owned by immigrant entrepreneurs, New York City has always been and will continue to be a city of immigrants. To that end, SBS created Building Your Business in New York City: A Guide for Immigrant Entrepreneurs which is available in seven languages.

Through the use of the City’s purchasing power, the New York City Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise program aims to support the growth of minority and women-owned businesses and ensure our vendors reflect the diversity of our city. At SBS we provide essential capacity building services and technical assistance so businesses can compete for and execute government contracts. The Procurement Technical Assistance Center, funded in part by the Department of Defense and administered by the Defense Logistics Agency offers critical support to small businesses. We believe that in order for a small business to gain and sustain growth, they must be prepared to take advantage of multiple revenue streams, particularly minority, women, veteran and service disabled veteran owned businesses that have historically not had access to government contracting opportunities.

As you can see, New York City has made small businesses a priority and as a result we have seen them flourish. We hope municipalities from across the country use New York City as a model and replicate our successes. By recognizing the strength of diversity in our city, and helping immigrant, women, black entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs of color to grow thriving businesses and careers, we are ensuring every New Yorker has access to economic security while growing our city's economy. Thank you for the opportunity to share the importance of small businesses to New York City and cities across the nation. I look forward to your questions."