The Small Business Congress, NYC
For Immediate Release
Sept 7, 2017 Contact: Steven Barrison , 212-7505560
F Report Card on Mayor de Blasio’s
Small Business Economic Policies.
Is Mayor de Blasio’s economic policy creating a healthy, stable, and profitable environment for New York City’s Small Businesses to grow and create jobs? Small Business Advocates say No, Mayor’s goal of keeping the status quo and not even trying to deal with the major problems earns him a failing grade.
Most damaging to our city’s economy under his administration is keeping our hard working entrepreneurs a deprived social class with no rights and no voice in making economic policy in New York City. This creates a distrust in our government to be treated fairly and destroys the spirit of our best entrepreneurs to want to grow their businesses and have a future in NYC.
Dateline NYC, Sept 7, 2017
This report grade was done by The Small Business Congress (SBC), founded in 1991 (savenycjobs.org). SBC is a citywide organization of over 80 small business, professional and tenants advocate groups who work to promote a healthy environment for our city’s small businesses. SBC organized a special committee to thoroughly review and evaluate Mayor de Blasio’s record of real actions taken, jobs and business initiatives and economic programs created to address the real problems of small business owners and to promote a business environment which produces vitality leading to higher profits for small business owners. ( At end is criteria used, sources of data and the list of members with qualifications)
This unbiased special committee was comprised of only people who have a minimum of 25 years experience in owning and operating a small business in NYC or advocating for small businesses. Furthermore, to avoid conflict of interests, no member had received government funding or has contracts with the city or state, or was consultant to any big business or government funded organization. No member’s organization had board members or officers who represented banks, SBA, real estate industry or promoted loan programs. This committee was comprised of representatives from each borough, most of the city’s ethnic minorities, women business owners, professional businesses, and every type of business in NYC including arts and Not for Profits.
The Chairman of the committee was Mr. Sung Soo Kim. He is widely regarded as the city’s leading authority on small business issues, and is often referred to as “The Godfather of Small Business”. He was Chairman of the first Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Board for Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani (with no salary) , he founded the Korean American Small Business Service Center (umbrella organization representing 15 Korean business associations) and the city’s oldest small business service center, Co-founder of The New York City Small Business Congress, Co-founded of the Coalition to Save NYC Small Businesses, and he created The Small Business Bill of Rights, highlighting the top needs of small businesses, given to elected officials each year since 1991. For over 32 years, Mr. Kim has given more testimony at public hearing before the city council and special forums and advised government agencies concerning regulations than all the other business lobbyists combined. More importantly, Mr. Kim has worked directly every day for over 30 years providing direct service to the small business owners in need of help, he knows their problems first hand better than anyone.
Mayor de Blasio’s record on small business:
Once elected, Mayor de Blasio did a complete flip-flop on his pledged progressive values and small business economic policy, and instead he maintained former Mayor Bloombergs’ pro real estate policy which marginalized entrepreneurs’ role in our city’s economy and totally ignored the major problems that were destroying the majority of our city’s successful small businesses.
The record shows as Councilman, Bill de Blasio had first- hand knowledge of the dire consequences faced by business owners under Bloomberg’s anti small business policies and the instability and crisis it created. As Councilman and candidate for Public Advocate he was the strongest voice for the passage of real solutions to the real problems of NYC businesses, like the Small Business Survival Act. Yet, as Mayor he remains silent on the small business crisis and the need to address any major problem which would save a single small business owner or a single New Yorker’s job.
In the first two years of Mayor de Blasio’s Administration
12,363 Court Warrants to Evict Commercial Businesses were issued
est. 30,000 Businesses Closed Citywide
est. 200,000 NYers lost their jobs
The outcome of continuing a failed small business policy has led to the NYC Landlord &Tenant Courts issuing warrants to vacate an average of 492 businesses per month and an est. 1,100 businesses closing each month ensuring the widening of the gap of economic inequality for small business owners.
Under Mayor De Blasio’s economic policy,
For long established businesses, NYC is the worse major city in the world:
To survive lease expirations.
To negotiate fair lease terms which allow a reasonable profit.
To plan expansion and predict future costs.
Mayor de Blasio’s Small Business Policy-Willful Ignorance
In fairness to Mayor de Blasio, when he took office he inherited a crisis with the city’s small business community in a mess and struggling to survive 20 years of Republican trickle down economics. Every type of business was struggling to survive a decades’ old commercial real estate bubble that was growing larger each year, producing the greatest transfer of wealth in the city’s history, from hard working successful entrepreneurs to landlords and real estate speculators. Big banks bidding against big franchises for prime space on main street had wrecked havoc upon the commercial rental market. The high profit yields in real estate brought more speculators and profiteers into the marketplace and made getting fair lease terms for businesses next to impossible. The city’s very best entrepreneurs were closing in record numbers, and the sky high rents were spreading from Manhattan to Brooklyn and the other boroughs. Illegal extortion of mostly immigrant owners by unscrupulous landlords demanding cash from them to stay in business was becoming more common. Long time business owners were only given oppressive short term leases, sometime month to month or one year, in up and coming neighborhoods. Under Mayor Bloomberg the courts were evicting commercial tenants on average of 500 per month and during his administration 83,211 court warrants to evict were issued. Empty storefronts were common on every block of every busy shopping strip as landlords warehoused space waiting for deep pockets to rent. In NYC, with the most diverse economy in the nation, the administration’s economic policy was written by a select few to benefit only a select few. The norm had become for government to make a priority to maximize and protect the profits of the real estate industry, even if it meant its best entrepreneurs would make less profit or even fail. When a long established business’s lease expired, it meant only two things in NYC: a death sentence or owners forced to sign a lease that was an indentured servitude agreement where the owner now worked for the landlord.
Would Mayor de Blasio end this crisis as he pledged?
“End a tale of two cities and economic inequality thru progressive legislation and going in another direction from Bloomberg”
Mayor de Blasio kept his campaign pledges concerning social issues and policy but failed when it concerned economic policy.
Three changes that would Save Small Businesses,
but Mayor de Blasio fails to do even one.
The small business community had high hopes for our new mayor because as a Council Member, Bill de Blasio was fully aware of the crisis facing our small businesses and was publicly calling for the passage of the Small Business Survival Act which would give rights to all business owners to renew their leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms. As a candidate for Public Advocate, he eagerly attended every forum on small businesses and without any reservations detailed accurately every major problem faced by the business owners and he enthusiastically supported government intervention to enact real solutions, including regulating commercial landlords, to address them and end their crisis. Candidate de Blasio has the distinction of being the first lawmaker in NYC to draw attention to the growing practice of unscrupulous landlords extorting cash “under the table” from mostly immigrant owners when their leases expired. He publicly stated his outrage at this immoral act and committed to end it if elected. Coucilmembers’ Bill de Blasio and John Liu were regarded by the small business community with great respect as the most independent and courageous politicians to stand up to the powerful real estate lobby in NYC.
* log onto savenycjobs.org for a detailed record of events and statements made by Candidate de Blasio on his small business policy.
To help Mayor de Blasio in keeping his campaign pledge to fight to end economic inequality and take the city in another direction from Mayor Bloomberg, the SBC reached out to Mayor de Blasio with a recommendation to take three actions which would empower our city’s small businesses by reforming the Small Business Services (SBS) , change the city’s small business economic policy and stabilize the city’s small businesses.
The first was to appoint a new SBS Commissioner who actually had owned and built up a successful small business in NYC. Even though the SBS is the primary voice for all small businesses in NYC, former Mayor Bloomberg never appointed a commissioner who had owned a small business, nor had any of the leading staff of that agency. Also, even though the vast majority of small business owners were immigrants, with Hispanic owners being the majority, the SBS staff had little or no immigrant backgrounds. The small business advocates strongly felt the appropriate appointment for Mayor de Blasio should have been a Hispanic woman entrepreneur as the new SBS Commissioner and reforming the agency with ethnic immigrant staff with backgrounds in small business which reflected our city’s small business owners.
The Mayor ignored this advice and instead went the opposite direction with the appointment of Maria Torres-Springer , with zero background in owning or managing a small business in NYC. Mr. Torres-Springer kept in place the exact failed policy as under the Bloomberg administration. Not one major problem facing our city’s struggling small businesses was even mentioned by the SBS, let alone making an effort to create real solutions to address them. The SBS would follow the priorities set by EDC which was to keep the status quo and not interfere with their goals of making NYC the most attractive city for real estate investment in the world. Every other month the SBS would parade out a new small business initiative claiming to help or assist small businesses but in reality was worthless for them. What good are any small business initiatives for businesses that are closing or struggling to survive? Mayor de Blasio had another opportunity to change direction of SBS with a new Commissioner appointment when Ms. Torres-Springer was promoted. But again he rejected appointing an immigrant small business owner committed to change direction of the SBS and be a true advocate and voice for our city’s small business owners. Instead, he made another political appointment with the appointment of an African American who, like Torres-Springer had never owned a small business but had political connections. When Ms. Torres-Springer came into office the courts were evicting an average of 488 businesses per month in NYC. When she left , the crisis had worsened with the courts evicting 542 per month and with the sky high rents spreading to every main street in the city. What was her reward for doing nothing to save a single small business? And doing nothing to address a single major problem facing our small businesses, she was appointed Director of EDC. With zero background in business, and a record of doing nothing but useless programs, she was appointed to manage the largest city’s economy policy in the nation.
The second request was to separate the Small Business Services (SBS) from Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) control and make the agency independent and report to the Mayor and City Council only. The EDC has developed a reputation of being little more than a lobby agency for big real estate, and rewarding career bureaucrats who serve their interest with high paying private sector jobs. In their quest to make NYC the world capital for real estate investment , EDC purposely ignored the number one consequence to our city’s economy of encouraging this commercial real estate bubble and the windfall profits it brought, which was the destruction of our small businesses and the loss of countless NYer’s jobs. EDC viewed big real estate as the primary engine for economic development, not our hard working 200,000 entrepreneurs and the majority of jobs they created. Therefore, with a priority to keep NYC attractive for big real estate development , they would control the SBS and have them empower the property owners and banks thru the creation of BIDS on every main street and cover-up the negative consequences to both the small businesses and society caused by rent gouging and real estate speculation. EDC thru the SBS allowed the real estate lobby (REBNY) to not only define the problems faced by small businesses but also formulate fake solutions to address them. The destruction of small businesses got worse with rents out of control citywide and landlord abuses becoming a common factor when renewing leases. The closing of long established businesses in every neighborhood produced an outcry from the public for action to save them. The collaboration of SBS, EDC, REBNY and Speaker’s office was not to find a real solution to stop the closings of long established businesses and restore stability for businesses caused by zealous real estate speculation, but instead, to keep the status quo and stop a vote on the only real solution: the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. If our small businesses were ever to be treated fairly by our government and have their major problems addressed, the SBS would have to be independent of the EDC.
SBS has zero programs to retain jobs, zero programs to protect the investment of small business owners, and zero programs to preserve a single small business in NYC. They do not recognize 60% of small businesses as being true small businesses. They only recognize retail storefronts as small businesses. SBS does not recognize professional businesses like medical offices, accountants, and lawyers as small businesses.
Again, Mayor de Blasio ignored the small business advocates advice and kept the SBS under EDC and REBNY control. His appointment of Alicia Glen as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development made clear of no intention to change the direction of economic policy in NYC. Ms. Glen’s background was as Managing Director and Head of the Urban Investment Group for The Goldman Sachs Group, not small business friendly. Without an independent SBS , the future of our city’s small businesses looks bleak. SBS will continue setting up property owners organizations and declaring the primary problems of small businesses as “lack of loans and to many tickets”. This disgraceful disguised agency refuses to even mention the high rents as a problem for small business owners or the increased illegal extortion of mostly immigrant owners as a problem.
The third recommendation to the Mayor was the immediate passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act which gives rights to business owners to renewal leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms and rights to survive. This single act alone would put the brakes on all the long established businesses closing and restore stability to the marketplace. This is the same bill that Mayor de Blasio championed when he ran for Public Advocate. If he meant what he said in ending economic inequality, this would be the first step to take to achieve that goal. Mr. Kim stated the dire prediction if Mayor de Blasio failed to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, “The absolute essential component of any law to stop the closing of businesses is the “right to renewal of the lease,” without which all proposals will fail and all independent owners in New York City will eventually be forced to close.” The city’s commercial real estate bubble being ignored for two decades has pushed the majority of our small businesses past the tipping point of being able to pay these exorbitant rents and remain profitable. If Mayor de Blasio meant what he said of ending economic inequality for all, there is no option but to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.
Mayor de Blasio has no intention of passing any legislation regulating commercial landlords. Instead, he will rely upon a policy of Willful Ignorance to look, act and sound like he cares about the future of our small businesses,
when his policies show he does not.
Again, Mayor de Blasio refuses to take the advice of the small business advocates who call for
a vote on the only real solution to save them, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Instead, he is insulting the desperate business owners by claiming their major problems are lack of loans and to many tickets, which he is proudly addressing. REBNY is working with his administration and the Speaker’s Office to cook up several alternatives to substitute for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. One is legislation that gives one year extension to business owners to find a place to move. Another is having Albany pass a bill giving tax breaks to landlord who do not rent gouge, but is voluntary to landlords. The worst, of these phony substitutes is the call to create another study commission hand picked by REBNY to stall and delay any real solutions like Jobs Survival Act from being voted on and to keep the status quo.
Mayor de Blaisio abandons his progressive values
and small businesses pay the price.
Mayor de Blasio has the worst case of ”Romnesia” concerning small businesses and New Yorkers’ Jobs than any lawmaker.
Mayor de Blasio does the opposite of his idols Mayors La Guardia and Dinkins
After a comprehensive and impartial analysis of Mayor de Blasio’s present small business and jobs economic policy, only two rational conclusions can be arrived at. Mayor Bill de Blasio has a profound ignorance of the true needs of our city’s small business owners, caused by city agencies purposely keeping him in the dark. Or, Mayor de Blasio has abdicated his responsibility to formulate effective and equitable small business policy to the political consultants directing his future political career.
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s handout literature at an Upper Manhattan political club endorsement forum read: “Champion for small businesses”. Maybe in his past election for Public Advocate, which was his last fight for small businesses he was Champion but he lost that title in the Mayoral election when he stopped fighting for small businesses to gain economic equality and justice. Also, when he stopped fighting to restore the American Dream to our hard working small business owners.
Mr. Kim said, “I assumed electing a progressive mayor, speaker and Council who pledged to take a new direction from the Bloomberg administration, would make passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act easier not harder, However, progressive policies on social issues for the 99 percent, but keeping the 1 percent’s conservative Republican economic policy in place has wreaked havoc upon the 99 percent. Like many politicians, candidate de Blasio promised change, ‘a dramatic change of direction from the Bloomberg administration,’” Kim noted. “In my 30 years advocating for small business, no elected official has exhibited as dramatic a change in small business policy as our Mayor Bill de Blasio. He has gone the gamut, changing his assessment of the crisis from ‘rent gouging and extortion’ to ‘fines and lack of access to loans,’ a complete flip-flop from the last election.”
Mayor de Blasio has stated his role models were Mayor’s La Guardia and Dinkins.
Yet, he lacks the political will and courage both had to stand up to big real estate interests and stand behind our city’s small business owners in time of crisis. When speculators came into NYC during War World II to profit from the war by throwing out small business owners and jacking up the rents, then Mayor La Guardia stepped in and working with Governor Dewey, passed the nations first Commercial Rent Control law. This law stopped all the business evictions and rent gouging immediately. La Guardia kicked the real estate speculators out of NYC and they stayed out for four decades. Former Mayor Dinkins pledged during his race against Mayor Koch to sign into law, if passed, the original version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act sponsored by then Councilwoman Ruth Messinger. Mayor Dinkins established the first Mayoral Small Business Advisory Board in NYC. The board was made up of only small business owners with banks and real estate industry groups excluded. Unlike today’s stacked fake business groups, all were volunteers with no salaries and all donated their time to inform his administration of what our city’s small businesses’ problems were and recommended solutions. Former Mayor Dinkins in 1993 declared Small Business Initiatives and challenged 19 City agencies to complete 29 pro-small business policies. In his 1991 State of the City address, Mayor Dinkins mentioned small business problems and solutions 17 times. Compare Mayor Dinkins commitment to small businesses to Mayor de Blasio’s 2016 State of City address, “ It’s time for a New Economy for New York….. It’s an economy that sees abandoned industrial land on our waterfront as an opportunity to build a thriving commercial district…And today, small businesses are feeling major tax relief because last year we instituted the most sweeping changes and cuts in decades to our city’s outdated small business-tax code. And imagine the relief when the City issues a warning instead of a fine.” Not one mention of any of the major problems faced by our long established businesses in every neighborhood of the city : rent gouging, illegal extortion, short term leases, forced to pay the landlords property taxes, and competition from big box stores and the internet. Not one mention of the record number of small businesses forced to close each month under his administration.
Neither Mayor’s La Guardia or Dinkins would ignore the plight of our small businesses like Mayor de Blasio has done. Neither would hand over to REBNY the responsibility to formulate economic policy at a time of crisis for our small businesses. Both would immediately champion the passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, not work with REBNY to stop it. The landlords have taken over the economy of our city and have grown wealthy doing it while our small business owners and their workers have gotten poorer, and Mayor de Blasio’s economic policy will not change that unjust situation for New Yorkers.
Criteria used in report:
The committee used four criteria to determine the grade:
First, the assessment of the solution formulated to stop the closing of our long established small businesses caused by sky high rent increases or oppressive lease renewal terms.
Second, Mayor’s economic program, policy, or initiatives to seriously address the major problems facing small business owners and end the crisis they face.
Third, If the Mayor continues known anti small business economic policies established by former Mayor Giuliani and continued by Mayor Bloomberg.
Fourth, the assessment of the solution formulated to stop the illegal extortion of
“cash under the table” demanded by unscrupulous landlords from the mostly immigrant owners when their leases expire.
The primary source of information for this evaluation came directly from small business owners attending a series of public forums held in each borough on the topic, “Seeking solutions to stop the closings of long established small businesses.” Also, the invitations from community boards, community groups, local media, trade associations and concerned citizens seeking spokespersons to inform them of what actions were being taken or should be taken to address the crisis faced by businesses in NYC. Also used as a major source for data was the NYC Landlord and Tenant Commercial Eviction warrants issued by the court for businesses (savenycjobs.org). Finally, the largest independent study of small businesses done in NYC, The USA Latin Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Small Business Study. The results of this study first exposed the real crisis faced by the city’s small business owners. As a result, then Small Business Committee Chairman David Yassky, became the first public lawmaker in thirty years to state publicly the city’s small businesses face a crisis and government intervention was called for. Candidate Bill de Blasio was be his side when Chairman Yassky made that statement.
Members of Committee:
The Chairman, Mr. Sung Soo Kim., was Chairman of the first Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Board for Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani , founded the Korean American Small Business Service Center (umbrella organization representing 15 Korean business associations) and the city’s oldest small business service center, Co-founder of The New York City Small Business Congress, Co-founded of the Coalition to Save NYC Small Businesses, and he created The Small Business Bill of Rights, highlighting the top needs of small businesses, given to elected officials each year since 1991. Mr. Kim has worked directly every day for over 30 years providing direct service to the small business owners in need of help, he knows their problems first hand better than anyone.
Co Chair, Steven Barrison, Esq. – Co Chair, Coalition to Save NYC Small Businesses --President and founder of Bay Improvement Group, a community coalition dedicated to our main streets, since 1992, Member of the Board of Directors of the New York Main Street Alliance since 1992--NYMSA, a statewide main street revitalization org. in all 62 NYS counties
Executive Vice President & Spokesperson, Small Business Congress NYC, Representing the voices of many of the over 180,000 Mom & Pop businesses employing over 1 million New Yorkers. Advisor to the Kings County Boards of Trade. His family’s attorney business has negotiated thousands of commercial leases over the decades , representing both the tenants and landlords.
Co Chair , Sherri Donovan, Esq. – Legal counsel to Coalition to Save NYC Small Businesses, A New York City Attorney who founded her own law firm in 1988, Sherri Donovan & Associates, P.C.. Ms. Donovan graduated in 1985, a cum laude of New York Law School. Ms. Donovan was a Co-founder of Power Girls organization ( NYC professionals and business owners that provide services to each other and the community) , Former District Leader, 61st A.D., Part A (Greenwich Village Area), Former Community Board Two Member, New York County Cofounder and Board member of Art Helping Life, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting cultural arts; Co-founder and Board Member of Butterflies USA, an organization that helps street children in India, Former Board Member of the National Organization for Women Service Fund; and the National Organization of Single Mothers, Inc., and Co-founder of the Village Temple's Soup Kitchen. Between 1986 and 1995. She has been primary legal advisor to our city’s small businesses for over 30 years and has worked with several administrations’ counsel in developing small business legislation which is legally sound.
Jack Segan- Citywide –Retired from city’s largest Restaurant and Grocery Store Wholesaler
Was Community Affairs Director of Jetro Foods, with 5 warehouses in New York City which serve the largest owners of NYC small businesses, the grocery stores and restaurants. Mr. Segan was also Marketing Director for a special program at Jetro with 800 of the larger grocery owners. His role was to discover what their business problems were and offer support to them. He organizes monthly meetings with the small business owners to discuss their problems and to recommend solutions. Mr. Segan took the initiative in the 2009 elections to invite many New York City elected officials to these meetings with the small business owners where the elected officials and candidates can learn firsthand the problems facing the small businesses and find possible solutions. He has given testimony at City Hall Council hearings on small business issues.
Robert Bieder- President of Bronx Merchants Coalition and owner of family wholesale plumbing business in the Bronx since 1924. Past member of Bronx Economic Development team and member of several Bronx business organizations. Panel member on Bronx Forum: Solutions to Save Bronx Small Businesses. Testified before City Council hearings on small business issues many times and gave testimony at special hearing on Legal Review of Small Business Jobs Survival Act sponsored by Bronx President Diaz.
Luis Tejada- Artists and founder of Mirabal Sisters Community Center in Upper Manhattan.
Advocate for Hispanic small businesses and not for profits in Upper Manhattan for several decades. Organized and testified at several public forums seeking more government action to protect city’s small businesses. Served on panel at Washington Heights forum on Saving Small Businesses and is the primary spokesperson on Hispanic media on this issue.
Silvia Smith- Started successful small businesses 31 years ago in Washington
Heights . Primary voice for local businesses seeking help for two decades. Founded Manhattan Latin Chamber of Commerce to fight high rents and extortion of Hispanic businesses. Testified at many public hearings and forums on the crisis faced by Hispanic and women owned small businesses. Founded the Washington Heights Multi Cultural Center, to promote importance of Hispanic culture in NYC.