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New York Small Businesses Are Suffering, but Business and Community Organizations Are Proposing Solutions

Coronavirus, NYC

New York City is known for Wall Street, big law, and its corporate kings. However, New Yorkers are supported, fed, and entertained by mainly small businesses. They employ half of the city’s workforce and include 98% of the city’s employers. [1]

While the city’s large corporations are certainly struggling, the pandemic’s toll is most greatly felt by small businesses. A highly shared New York Times article, published August 3, paints an especially grim picture: one third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses are expected to close permanently.

The article notes that the businesses who depended on patronage from New York’s commuter population have suffered the greatest losses, as well as businesses who depend on foot traffic rather than online sales.

The article’s prediction is based on a report from the Partnership for New York City, “A Call for Action and Collaboration”, which, after presenting the magnitude of the crisis facing these businesses, urges the cooperation of the business community and government to enact solutions. The report stresses the importance of a clear and specific vision for the city’s future. Recovery will require cooperation from a variety of stakeholders with interests that may conflict with each other. Leaders who typically favor publicly-funded recovery plans, for example, are discussing private funding opportunities in the face of severe city budgetary constraints, that may or may not be mitigated by additional federal aid. [2]

One notable effort in development is a collaboration between the Partnership for New York City, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and borough chambers of commerce. Their goal is to assemble professionals, from accountants to technology specialists, to support and hopefully save small businesses, targeting those owned by women and minorities.

The report also highlights that struggles for small businesses are not isolated to the pandemic. The city’s long-running crisis of affordability has affected small business owners and their employees, as they have had to justify continued operations with rising commercial and residential rents. Since the pandemic in many ways has exacerbated existing problems rather than create new ones, well-planned solutions to the strains of the current crisis may have long reaching effects.

While small businesses and their employees continue to struggle, there is some positivity in the report, which demonstrates the willingness of both political and business leaders to focus on small businesses and their value to the New York City economy.

[1] Haag, M. (August 2020) One-Third of New York’s Small Businesses May Be Gone Forever from The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/nyregion/nyc-small-businesses-closing-coronavirus.html Accessed August 7 2020

[2] (July 2020) A Call for Action and Cooperation from Partnership for New York City https://pfnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/actionandcollaboration.pdf Accessed August 7 2020

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