By Mark Hallum
The Center for an Urban Future’s latest report on commerce in New York City does not bode well for the Hispanic community, as Latino New Yorkers fell behind in small business ownership compared to a sharp increase in Black-owned businesses.
Even Latino enclaves in the city have seen a decline, such as Queens toppling from the No. 11 county in the United States for entrepreneurship to No. 18, according to the new report, which shows businesses owned by Black New Yorkers increasing in Manhattan by 45% and 44% in Queens.
“Even before the pandemic, Hispanic-owned businesses across the city were facing major new threats. In fact, we show that over the past five years, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses decreased by 8.7 percent citywide, and by 23 percent in the Bronx. These troubling declines in NYC occurred even as Hispanic-owned firms increased in most other large U.S. cities,” the report said.
The decline in Hispanic owned business is accompanied by an outcry from bar and restaurant owners still suffering through the ban on indoor dining, for which New York City is the only region in the state still waiting for authorization. The call became more urgent Monday as New Jersey allowed for restaurants to serve indoors at 25% capacity.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted in an Aug. 31 press conference that indoor dining may not return until 2021.
“I think some are in really tough shape. I think others because of takeout, delivery, outdoor dining is going to be in a position to keep going for a while. I do expect, pray for and expect a vaccine in the spring that will allow us all to get more back to normal,” de Blasio said.
The growth in Black-owned business – four times the growth of white-owned business – is countered by the fact it only accounts for about 3.5% of services and that Asian entrepreneurs represent up to about 23% citywide, the report claims.
“Black-owned companies increased at four times the rate of white-owned businesses during the past five years – gains that have been important for wealth-building for Black New Yorkers and to neighborhood economies across the five boroughs, but which are now at risk during this pandemic,” according to the report.
In the communities of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, Hispanic restaurant and bar owners claim they have been harassed by the State Liquor Authority under Governor Andrew Cuomo as a tactic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Local residents say they’re simply trying to carve out a living in one of the toughest economies in recent memory.
A copy of the full report from the Center for an Urban Future can be read at nycfuture.org.