As states begin to consider reopening due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, small businesses look to local, state, and federal governments for guidance regarding safety concerns and financial security due to COVID-19.
With over 30 million unemployment claims across the country, bracing the economic impacts of COVID-19 has continued to put pressure on small businesses. New York City has nearly 180,000 confirmed cases and has been one of the hardest-hit states since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Gregg Bishop, the Commissioner for the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) shares some advice and insight on how small businesses can move forward amid the “new normal”.
“Our task is to not only help our small business in the city start and operate but to help New Yorkers obtain the skills and train them for new careers,“ said Bishop.
The SBS mission strives to help unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building thriving neighborhoods across the five boroughs.
Commissioner Bishop explained several issues that small businesses are facing which included accessing capital funding and combating inequalities.
Last year, the SBS was able to help small businesses receive access to over $76 million in funding. The SBS also provides technical assistance and educational resources to the community. The agency currently has a network of over 40 lenders for business owners.
Due to the current state of the pandemic, There is an array of financial assistance for businesses that are impacted by COVID-19. But small businesses are continually facing complications due to current financial system inequalities.
“What you’re seeing is a lot of the larger businesses that have the resources and infrastructure to produce the necessary documentation necessary for aid. They’re doing it at a faster pace than our small businesses, “ said Bishop.
Small businesses’ infrastructures are composed of fewer employees who will be responsible for multifaceted roles and responsibilities that can impact the success or failure of their organization. Small businesses seeking or in need of funds will miss the opportunity due to a lack of resources and staff bandwidth.
This was observed in the first round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The SBS continues to develop technical assistance for business owners trying to access aid.
According to the commissioner, small businesses in New York account for around 3 million jobs and 70 percent of small businesses have 10 or fewer employees.
“There is an opportunity! New York City is a resilient city, a tough city. We have gone through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and we will also come back stronger from this. Now is the opportunity for small business to come back stronger,” said Bishop.
Bishop’s advice for minority-owned businesses included developing an online presence with an enhanced e-commerce strategy and innovating their business model.
This can involve looking at owners’ marketing efforts and personal protection equipment (PPE) for consumers and employees going into crowded situations moving forward.
“There are two issues that small businesses are facing regarding equity. One is their access to capital and information,” said Bishop.
Bishop spoke of the importance for small businesses to use this time to pivot their business and utilize their local resources. Small businesses looking to support their employees during the pandemic, should seek assistance from the PPP and diversify and strengthen their current skills and training.
“We want to make sure that all of our constituents know that resources are available and that New York City is here to help,” said Bishop.