New York City Department of Small Business Services prepares for end of federal funding

“Another other factor was that even in the midst of a pandemic, SBS [Small Business Services] staff went into overdrive. Everyone pivoted very quickly, almost overnight, to online servicing for the public,” Kim added.

The agency is prepared to continue serving city businesses owners even as the federal money runs its course, he said.

Mayor Eric Adams’ economic outline from earlier this year announced plans to pool private money to create a $75 million “Small Business Opportunity Fund.” The fund will loan capital to both early-stage and established businesses and target minority and immigrant entrepreneurs who didn’t receive federal support during the pandemic. The program is expected to launch before the year is out, according to the SBS.

Kim also emphasized that the administration is committed to improving the support for Business Improvement Districts, especially in outer borough neighborhoods and specifically those that have been traditionally under-funded in prior years, such as the Bridge Street Development Corp. in Crown Heights and the Brooklyn Chinese American Association in Bensonhurst. To this end, the current budget set aside $5.3 million in multi-year grants to fund BIDs across the city in the fiscal year that began in July.

“We’ve been able to help some of the under-resourced, smaller BIDs so the support services can be utilized and leveraged by small businesses to help them thrive,” Kim said.

The new SBS data is for the fiscal year 2022, which began in July 2021 and ended in June 2022. SBS served 26,688 unique customers or businesses—up more than 7,700 from the prior year. In fact, at no time in the previous four fiscal years had the agency serviced more than 21,000 unique business or customers in a single year.

The number of unique businesses that received financial support from the agency rose from 1,424 in fiscal year 2021 to a staggering 10,627 businesses in fiscal year 2022, according to the report. In the four years prior—between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2021—the SBS serviced less than 8,800 businesses combined.

An unprecedented amount of federal support flowed into the state—and thereby SBS—during the pandemic. The agency allocated $261 million in federal, state, city and privately-funded grant programs in fiscal year 2022 alone—an increase from $83 million distributed in the prior year.

Federal and state money SBS received included:

• $15 billion Shuttered Venue Operations Grant, of which New York state allocated $1.98 billion through more than 2,500 individual grants by Dec. 2021

• $623 million in various federal, state, local and private funding measures between Mar. 2020 and Dec. 2021

• $100 million Small Business Resilience Grant, offering individual grants up to $10,000 for each business

• $2.1 million in Federal Community Block Grants and American Rescue Plan Act Funds to finance Avenue NYC Program and 40 Open Streets plans

New plans

The department is counting on a reduced regulatory burden to make life easier for small businesses once federal funding runs out.

Under the guidance of a Jan. 2022 executive order from Adams, the SBS has already reformed 118 existing fines and penalties since the start of the year—30 violations have been eliminated, 49 violations had their fine amounts reduced, and 39 violations were changed to warnings or cure periods, according to Kim.

Small business owners across the city are expected to save $8 million annually from these violations’ reforms, he said.

“It’s not just about giving money and providing access to capital,” Kim said, “The other aspect is… looking for ways to educate rather than punish.”

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