It wasn’t business as usual in the Bronx last week when stores in Westchester Square received a special visit from an organization dedicated to assisting small businesses.
On Wednesday, May 27, Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of Small Business Services, Lisa Sorin, executive director of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District and SBS client managers kicked off Small Business First’s proactive business education support by going door-to-door to talk to store owners in the square.
Small Business First, which is run by SBS along with Mayor de Blasio’s Office of Operations and more than 15 partnering city agencies, is the city’s comprehensive plan to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses.
The day’s event was held to share important information about top violations that impact small businesses in New York City.
Throughout the day, SBS visited merchants to provide the business owners with the information they need to easily navigate government and avoid costly fines. Resources were also provided to help business owners cut red tape to reduce the regulatory burden and increase compliance.
Prior to this launched support, SBS and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce also hosted a workshop at the Hutchinson Metro Center, where small business owners learned from Torres-Springer about the initiative and about SBS’s streamlining licensing and permitting processes, as well as the many resources available to help them understand and comply with regulations.
At the workshop, NYC Business Solutions Center staff and the BCC met with attendees and connected them to services including navigating government, business courses, financing assistance, minority and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) certification and more.
“Through Small Business First, we are committed to better reaching business owners across the five boroughs by delivering tailored information and assistance right to their door and utilizing data to focus our educational outreach on the businesses and neighborhoods that need it most,” said Torres-Springer. “The on-the-ground customized support provided by SBS client managers will help New York City business owners avoid fines and violations, so they can spend more time running and growing their business and less time navigating government.”
These proactive education and outreach efforts started with 100 Bronx businesses and will eventually lead to neighborhoods across the five boroughs this summer, as expert claim managers will continue to assist small business owners avoid fines and violations as part of Small Business First. More regular data analysis and proactive outreach will begin in the fall.
“Small businesses in Westchester Square have been faced with fines and violations that could have been avoided had local business owners had a better understanding of city regulations,” said Sorin. “This is why we are delighted to have (Commissioner Maria) Torres-Springer and SBS client managers kick off their Small Business First outreach in the Bronx with Westchester Square BID.”
“I’ve consistently taken the position that if we’re not reaching mom and pop businesses at their storefronts, we’re not really reaching them at all,” said Councilman Robert Cornegy, Jr., chair of the committee on Small Business. “Combining SBS’ passion for small businesses with their expert knowledge and neighborhood-focused outreach cannot be understated.”
“This is a wonderful step forward and I look forward to seeing it expand and help business across the city.”