Op-Ed | New Yorkers must show their local businesses some love during Small Business Month

Young manager girl changing a sign from closed to open sign on door cafe
Photo via Getty Images

From the corner bodega to the local hardware store, small businesses keep New York City running 24/7. New small businesses are popping up everywhere as evidenced by the fact that 1 in 9 businesses in operation today opened in the last year.  As Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), I have listened to hundreds of small business owners and workers share  their dreams, challenges and achievements with me. 

Take Theo DuPree, who found the perfect market in the city for his “wash and sip” concept at Pearl Lee’s Washtub, that opened just last month.  He understood that New Yorkers are social multitaskers who are always on the go and came up with the idea for the city’s first laundrobar, where local Brooklynites can grab a drink with friends, old and new, while doing laundry.  SBS helped Theo navigate the process of getting permits from the city’s Departments of Buildings, Health and Mental Hygiene, and the New York State Liquor Authority to open this hybrid business – only in New York!

As the son of immigrant small business owners, I feel inspired by the courage and grit these entrepreneurs and essential workers have shown during the pandemic, and now during our recovery. Each entrepreneur I meet reminds me of my parents who immigrated to this country in 1975 and raised a family in a one-bedroom apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, while working 14 hours a day to gain a foothold in our economy. Because of them, I know first-hand what a successful small business can mean not just to one family, but to a community, and even an entire city.

That’s why for May – Small Business Month – I’m encouraging all New Yorkers to show up for our small businesses by shopping small and local. Did you know that for every dollar spent at a small business, an estimated 70 cents stay within that community? This translates directly into jobs for our neighbors and the creation of attractions that lures visitors from all over the world into our commercial corridors.

There is no denying that small businesses today face substantial challenges. But under Mayor Adams’ leadership, our city has made it clear that our economic recovery will be centered on, and powered by small businesses. In the past 16 months, we have, among other accomplishments, slashed bureaucratic red tape;  saved small businesses more than $20 million;  helped small, diverse businesses contract with city government agencies at record levels; and  launched the $75 million NYC Opportunity Fund, the largest public/private partnership loan fund directed to small businesses in New York City history. Moreover, New York City jobs are back to pre-pandemic levels. 

We can all do our part to bring the city back by supporting local small businesses – and SBS has made it easier than ever to do so with our Shop Your City small business directory. There’s no place like New York City; our small business owners are the most diverse, creative, and unique. Help us help them to keep it that way!