Tag Archives: Department of Small Business Services

Community partners chosen for new SBS initiative to help immigrant-owned businesses

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Logo courtesy of the Department of Small Business Services

Immigrant business owners are getting local helping hands to help them thrive in their communities.

Five community-based partners were chosen on Oct. 20 to participate in the Department of Small Business Services’ (SBS) Immigrant Business Initiative, in partnership with Citi Community Development, which was initially announced in May and will provide free business services to immigrant business owners.

The selected community partners that will be helping owners in Queens include the Business Outreach Center Network, Make The Road New York and Renaissance Economic Development Corporation.

“Immigrant entrepreneurs are vital to the city’s identity and economy, opening businesses that create jobs and bring great diversity and energy to our most dynamic communities,” said SBS Commissioner Marie Torres-Springer.

The community partners will provide free business courses, one-on-one counseling and community-based outreach in five languages: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Haitian-Creole and Russian. Each organization will partner with SBS and also help owners get in touch with existing services throughout the city.

“We have been able to have a great relationship with SBS and this will be able to take us to a new level and combine our roots and expertise in the neighborhood with so many other resources that SBS could offer,” said Nick Petrie, small business organizer at Make The Road NY.

Flora Vizuete, a Colombian immigrant living in Corona who is working on launching her business called Flower’s Cleaning Service, recently received help from SBS to register her company and set up a bank account.

Through getting direct help from the Business Outreach Center Network, Vizuete said she feels like everything is heading in the right direction for her business.

“It’s much easier [with their help], especially because to start you don’t know where to go. Sometimes you don’t know what to do because you are overwhelmed,” Vizuete said. “And when I went there they helped me out a lot. So far I’ve been having good luck because there are people there helping you and guiding you.”

Vizuete also added that she thinks the service will help others who are in the same situation.

“It’s going to be helpful for people because sometimes you don’t know where to find things, and so far for me it’s going [well],” Vizuete said. “And if anyone would ask me I would definitely recommend it to them.”

For more information on the services provided by the Immigrant Business Initiative, visit www.nyc.gov/immigrantbusinesses or call 311.


New campaign helps small businesses impacted by Sandy

| dpetrovich@queenscourier.com

Screenshot from supportnycsmallbusiness.com

In an effort to help small businesses that have been affected by Sandy, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined forces with the Department of Small Business Services to launch the “Support NYC Small Business” campaign.

This new promotional campaign encourages locals and tourists to shop in New York City neighborhoods that were hit hardest by Sandy, trying to get small businesses back on their feet.

Sandy impacted over 13,000 businesses, but many have reopened and several others are in the process of reopening.

In order to spread the word, this campaign highlights select businesses and their remarkable recovery stories on television, radio and bus shelters, and in print and taxis.

The campaign will also hit the web with a “Back to Business” site that includes an interactive map of open businesses. The city is urging business owners who have just reopened to add to the map, so New Yorkers can consult the map for their holiday shopping and beyond.

Yelp is a partner in this cause, featuring links to help drive New York City users to the Support NYC Small Business interactive map.

“In the height of the holiday shopping season, we need to make sure that New Yorkers, tourists and all shoppers are fully aware that many small businesses impacted by Sandy have reopened and are ready to serve customers,” said Quinn.

While some small businesses are up and running, several are still struggling to open. All businesses affected by Sandy who still need assistance can get more information by visiting www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness, calling 311, or visiting one of the city’s Restoration Centers or NYC Business Solutions Centers in any borough.

Woodside businesses considering new BID program

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Woodside businesses are eyeing a new, lighter Business Improvement District (BID) program.

The simplified version, called BID express, focuses on maintenance and sanitation, reducing costs for its members by centralizing management. While a traditional BID largely emphasizes administration costs and assists with marketing efforts, the downsized version appeals to smaller districts with a more localized mentality.

“We think this is a great tool for areas that want BID services but can’t afford the traditional model,” said Department of Small Business Services (SBS) spokesperson Kris Goddard.

The program, first introduced on June 21, is available citywide. According to Goddard, roughly 15 different neighborhoods across the five boroughs have expressed interest, including Woodside.

Joe Conley, chair of Community Board 2 and founder of both the Long Island City and Sunnyside BIDs, first initiated the Woodside BID a year ago. Currently in the process of educating local businesses about the positives to joining, Conley said the most important step in establishing a BID is identifying the needs of local businesses. In Woodside, businesses’ main concerns were advertising, security and maintenance.

The average BID fee for a storefront under the innovative program is between $200 and $400 annually. Dues go towards hiring private contractors to take care of basic chores, such as cleaning sidewalks and painting over graffiti. According to Conley, both the LIC and Sunnyside BIDs as well as the SBS will be assisting with the development of the Woodside program.

“We’re trying to enhance the neighborhood and give them a voice,” said Conley. “They have someone advocating for them on a full time basis.”

According to Conley, 15 Woodside businesses have reached out in interest in joining the BID.

“I think its well worth it,” said Frank Ottomanelli, owner of Ottomanelli and Sons, a family-run meat shop in Woodside. “I hope that it does work. I don’t think it can hurt.”

Some business owners, excited for the BID program to hit their block, believe it will increase foot traffic, particularly among commuters.

“Anything that improves an area is going to help it,” said Sean Sullivan, a manager at Sean Og’s Tavern. “Woodside is an important area because it has the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road. We decided to get involved because we thought it would be good for the area. Right now, business is steady, but the BID may attract more people.”

According to Conley, after public hearings and meetings with city council, the Woodside BID will be instated some time in 2013.

— Additional reporting by Adrienne Kurtz