Small Business Services discusses making borough’s economy thrive

The Bronx Merchants Coalition met with a Small Business Services assistant commissioner to discuss making small business thrive in the borough.

On Friday, September 18 the merchants in the coalition, which encompasses groups from all over the borough, met with Assistant Commissioner Jeremy Waldrup of the Department of Small Business Services to discuss issues brought to Mayor Bloomberg’s attention at a recent coalition gathering in Throggs Neck.

Their goal is to have the merchants and the city work together to address forming ‘Retail Retention Zones,’ parking, sanitation, and tax incentives for growing business, creating jobs, and sprucing up shopping districts.

“One of the major goals that we wished to accomplish was to fully define the term ‘retail retention zones’, which is something that elected officials have really embraced,” said merchants coalition chairman Bob Bieder. “We also discussed 12 different issues that are important to merchants.”

The retail retention zones include provisions for the beautification of shopping districts through tax breaks for small business, building maintenance and repair loans, job creation incentives, opening lines of credit to small business, and buy local projects. The plan would require action from the state legislature.

One of the major sticking points that attendees at the meeting said was discussed in detail were issues related to the city’s use of traffic enforcement to generate revenue.

“You can’t blame the parking agents because the city has a budget line for parking ticket revenue that is $863 million,” Bieder said. “Traffic agents should look to maintain an effective flow of traffic in a professional and courteous manner. In the past it was not unusual to have a traffic agent knock on a merchant’s door and ask if anyone was double parked.”

Bieder said that the reason this doesn’t happen anymore is because even with 100% enforcement of existing traffic code, agents are forced to write summonses to meet the city’s need for revenue.

John Bonizio, of the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square, said that parking tickets are a detriment to small business in the city.

Bonizio also believes that the Department of Small Business Services does a really great job in providing assistance, but that other city agencies are getting in the way of their good work.

“It is my opinion that Small Business Services is the most well-run agency in city government,” Bonizio said. “It is unfortunate that all of the other agencies, which operate independently, create an environment that is anti-small business.”

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