Mayor presents slate of services to help Hispanic businesses
by Mike Fitelson
Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Inwood Wed., June 17 to announce a quintet of new initiatives aimed at helping Hispanic-owned small businesses in the five boroughs, including two programs that will occur in Northern Manhattan.
The press conference was held at nonprofit Audubon Partnership for Economic Development on W. 207th Street.
The five initiatives include:
- The NYC Business Solutions Financing Fair scheduled for July 9 at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Educational and Cultural Center on Broadway at W. 165th Street allowing local small businesses to pitch their financing needs to both traditional and alternative lenders.
- A new NYC Business Solutions satellite office expected to open in Northern Manhattan by September, providing a bilingual staff to help entrepreneurs with business practices such as planning, accessing financing, reviewing legal documents and managing employees.
- Providing greater access to pro-bono legal assistance by working with the Legal Aid Society to host expanded Spanish language legal workshops about commercial leases and contracts beginning in August.
- Holding a half-day seminar for Hispanic business associations within the next three months.
- Creating access to a bilingual online directory hosted by the National Hispanic Business Information Clearinghouse.
Bloomberg said the city wanted to assist Latino businesses because at last count several years ago there were 150,000 such businesses in the five boroughs with a combined $1.25 billion payroll.
“Hispanic-owned businesses are vital to the future of our city,” he said.
Asked about funding allocated for the initiatives, the mayor said they would not require much additional money. Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh added that the satellite office in Northern Manhattan would be budgeted for $150,000 to place two staff workers for a year. It was not clear if that would include funding for rent or reimbursing another institution to house them.
In general, Bloomberg said he expects that small businesses will be at the vanguard of pulling the city out of its economic doldrums. One reason is because when conditions improve New York’s hundreds of thousands of small businesses will be able to expand and hire one or two workers, absorbing the unemployed, faster than large companies. “Small businesses will take us out of the recession,” he predicted.
Another approach that will help the city’s economy is strengthening public-private partnerships, which underscore the five initiatives, noted Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares and echoed by Walsh. “This is the type of example that makes New York great,” Linares added.
Before the press conference, the mayor visited three local Latino businesses on W. 207th Street, eateries El Viejo Jobo, Little Apple and New Wave unisex salon, where he greeted workers and customers in Spanish and English.
At Little Apple, Bloomberg heard about a sixth initiative he could launch that business owner España Aristy said would improve the fortunes of the Latino businesses lining the busy corridor: ending the year-old Select Bus Service express lanes that eliminate parking spaces on W. 207th Street during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
“Eliminating parking is killing business,” she said, claiming her business is off 50 percent in the afternoon.
On the street and in businesses, Linares, who formerly represented Northern Manhattan in the City Council, seemed to be greeted by as many – if not more – passersby than the mayor.
The Manhattan Times is the bilingual newspaper of Washington Heights and Inwood.