Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Small Business Afterthought

In all the hoopla of economic renaissance, small business is treated as a tag line in the mayor’s self promotion. We weren’t paying that much attention but we did hear something about the mayor creating a small business investment fund. You’ll notice that all the other breathless announcements were about events already in progress. For small business, after four years, all we get are promises? How lame is that.

More importantly, this fund and similar measures mask the reality of the Bloomberg first term which has been the most anti-small business in 20 years. Here is the reality:

1) Hiked commercial real estate tax (June 2002) – Resulted in 20% + rent increase for all neighborhood stores

2) Garbage rate hike (September 2003) – Increased the cost of disposing “wet” garbage and led to a doubling and even tripling of disposal for all area food stores

3) Cigarette tax (May 2002) – An 1800% tax increase, the largest in city history, has taken over $250 million a year from the coffers of local bodegas, green grocers and newsstands. Local retailers have lost 60% of their sales to the internet and to the black market of street sales. Despite this devastating loss, the mayor characterizes it as a “minor economic issue.”

4) Bodega safety (July 2003) – When a rash of murders targeting bodega owners hit the city the local media was having a field day. In response to the uproar, and after being chided for his cigarette tax, the mayor went to the Bronx and announced “Operacion Tienda Segura” (Operation Safe Store). The NYPD, in response, set up a security camera pilot program for ten stores. Now two years later, with the police reporting a great success with the pilot, no follow up has yet to be seen out of the mayor’s office (Maybe if Ferrer gets closer we’ll start to see more stores put in the program).

5) Mega development – In all of the large scale development small business has been given short shrift. The kicking out of the Bronx Terminal Market merchants and the Willets Point businesses head the list. Less well know, was Deputy Doctoroff’s 2002 decision to award the Bradhurst development to his friend and Related Companies President Steve Ross over local entrepreneurs Mauricio and Matthew Fernandez.

If the mayor wants to do more for small business he can do the honorable thing: get a new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.