Mayor de Blasio Update On Promise To Help Small Businesses More Easily Start And Grow In NYC

March 13, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the City has made significant strides in making New York City a better place for small businesses. The City has successfully implemented Small Business First, a set of interagency policy and procedural changes that are expected to save businesses $50 million annually. Since the launch of this initiative, the time to complete common business transactions, such as obtaining permits and licenses, has been reduced by 30 percent.

New York City is home to over 230,000 small businesses, of which nearly 50 percent are owned by foreign-born New Yorkers. Creating an environment in which these businesses can thrive is critical to the economic health and global competitiveness of the City. Through Small Business First, the Administration has executed 30 commitments across more than 10 City agencies based on feedback from over 600 business owners along with advocates, community leaders and elected officials in all five boroughs. Since the initiative began in 2015, the City also launched its first online portal through which businesses can manage transactions such as permit applications and licenses.

“When business owners have access to resources and tools that help their businesses thrive, the city as a whole will share the benefits of their success,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That’s why we’re putting small businesses first by implementing policies and programs that expand economic opportunity and cut red tape, helping small businesses establish themselves and grow. Focusing investment on small businesses makes New York City’s economy stronger and fairer for everyone.”

“I’m excited to see the fulfillment of the goals of Small Business First, an all-encompassing multiagency program that was tailored and implemented with the very needs of our City’s small business owners, especially minority and immigrant owners, front and center,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phillip Thompson. “The program is a good example of what we are doing in other areas in this administration which is aligning economic inclusion goals with business creation and expansion and I commend the tremendous work by all the City agencies involved for getting us closer to building a sustainable path for small businesses to succeed in our city.”

“I’m proud to partner with fellow City agencies to reduce the burden of bureaucracy and promote equity of access for the City’s over 230,000 small businesses,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Together, we’re demonstrating that New York City is open for business.”

“Small Business First highlights the value and importance of agency collaboration across New York City,” said Jeff Thamkittikasem, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “From the outset our goal was to improve government efficiency and clear the way for more small business owners to succeed. I’m proud of what this initiative has accomplished.”

“It is important for entrepreneurs to know that the City offers so much in the way of public information, resources, and services curated for business owners and that our goal is to make these tools more accessible and user-friendly than ever. Improving access leads to increased diversity; we have applied this operating principle at the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs as well as the feedback from minority and women entrepreneurs in developing the one-stop-shop M/WBE website hosted on NYC Business Portal,” said Jonnel Doris, Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs.

Small Business First aims to ensure that City regulations are easy to navigate while still protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers. The achievement highlights below are based on four key recommendations from the report:

Provide clear information with coordinated services and support

  • Launched the NYC Business Portal, an online platform that allows business owners to track licenses, permits, and violations in one place. The portal boasts nearly 3 million visits and nearly 14,000 business accounts since June 2016.
  • Established a Small Business Support Center in Jamaica, Queens that offers business owners in-person support from multiple City agencies. Nearly 32,000 services have been provided to small businesses through the center.

Reduce the burden imposed by complex regulations and fines

  • Revised the Rules of the City of New York to simplify regulations. This includes 80 rule modifications that positively impact businesses.
  • Streamlined filing and review processes for regulations by eliminating areas of overlap between agencies. This is expected to save businesses a total of about $10.5 million in fees and 1.5 months in total processing time.
  • Reduced the amount in fines collected by the City by over 30 percent and reduced the number of violations issued to businesses and commercial properties by nearly 10 percent.

Understand and comply with City regulations

  • Expanded remote adjudication options to regulatory agencies, which allows business owners to contest a summons without leaving their business.
  • Launched compliance consultations to help businesses prevent potentially costly fines through no-cost assessments for potential violations and expert advice.

Ensure Equal Access for All Business Owners

Trained City staff to provide information to small business owners in a more accessible manner. Ten City agencies have published 25 simplified guides which have been translated into six or more languages.

Small Business First is led the Department of Small Business Services and the Mayor’s Office of Operations in conjunction with the Board of Standards and Appeals, Department of Buildings, Department of City Planning, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Finance, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Fire Department of NY, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and Taxi & Limousine Commission.

“Our diverse small business community is the backbone of our local neighborhoods. We are proud to support international businesses that are interested in moving to New York City,” said Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs. “Together with our partners at the Department of Small Business Services, we are thrilled to make our global city an even more attractive destination for small businesses.”

“Small businesses are the economic engine of New York City, and local government is committed to their success,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “This new portal will serve as a digital one-stop-shop that will help small business owners save time, save money, and seamlessly interface with City government.”

“Collaboration across city agencies helps remove barriers to economic progress for all New Yorkers,” said Thomas Fariello, RA, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Buildings. “Online tools like the NYC Business Portal and our DOB NOW system, as well as our weekly open house sessions for small business owners, help reduce red tape, improve customer service, increase transparency, and make it easier to build the businesses on which our city depends.”

“The NYC Business Portal is a terrific example of how technology can be leveraged to benefit the hundreds of thousands of small businesses operating here in New York City,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “We’re proud to have contributed to this effort with SBS, taking a human-centered design approach to ensure business transactions with city agencies are made as easy and intuitive as possible.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of New York City – they create jobs, serve our communities, and are essential to the City’s economy,” said Lorelei Salas, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs. “DCA is committed to helping our small businesses thrive. It’s why we regularly conduct Business Education Days and offer easy-to-read Inspection Checklists in more than 40 industries and in many languages so businesses know what inspectors look for during inspections. Under this crucial initiative, DCA has significantly reduced fines assessed during our patrol inspections. We have also increased our efforts to provide financial empowerment services to our business communities. This includes offering free financial counseling to help small business owners learn about and access services aimed at helping them achieve financial stability. We look forward to working alongside our sister agencies to continue to develop more programs and initiatives that will help small businesses succeed.”

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, and we must continue to promote policies that truly address the needs of entrepreneurs and business owners to help them thrive,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “I commend Mayor de Blasio on today’s announcement that will help level the playing field and allow small businesses to compete with large companies and grow within the communities they serve.”

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, and we must continue to promote policies that truly address the needs of entrepreneurs and business owners to help them thrive,” said Harlem Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “I commend Mayor de Blasio on today’s announcement that will help level the playing field and allow small businesses to compete with large companies and grow within the communities they serve.”

Assembly Member Al Taylor said, “Small business owners need simple and easy-to-access tools and information to succeed in New York City. With the implementation of Small Business First, I am optimistic that small businesses will have better access to resources they need to be successful.”

For more information on Small Business First, visit

For more information, visit

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