Small businesses power Queens’ economic growth

By Philip Newman

Much of the business growth in Queens since 2000 has been in businesses with less than five employees, according to a new survey.

The Center for an Urban Future urged the de Blasio administration to “retrofit its tool kit of small business programs to include more initiatives that help businesses to grow.”

The public policy think tank said that while businesses with less than five employees account for roughly 70 percent of Queens’ companies, they were responsible for 65.6 percent of the borough’s new business growth between 2000 and 2013.

According to the report, 70.2 percent of Queens’ private sector businesses had fewer than five employees in 2013, up from 68 8 percent in 2008 and 65.7 percent in 2000.

The center said these small Queens companies generated 85.6 percent of the borough’s new business growth between 2000 and 2013.

The number of Queens businesses with less than five employees increased to 32,915 in 2013from 23,940 in 2000, while the number of Queens businesses with 100 or more employees actually declined to 605 last year from 633 over the same span.

The report features 21 profiles of New York City based small businesses that have grown in recent years. Based on interviews with the founders or current executives of the growing small businesses, the profiles identify key factors, decisions and supports – in essence the “secret sauce” – that led to each firm’s successful expansion.

They include Bareburger, an organic burger chain that grew from a single restaurant in Astoria into a mini-empire with 17 stores and 600 employees.

Also cited was Arepa Lady, a longtime Jackson Heights vendor that opened the first storefront this year, as well as Urban Martial Arts, a martial school that increased revenue by 30 percent by expanding into a vacant storefront next door. Xi’an, Famous Foods, a Chinese restaurant that expanded beyond its Flushing base to seven locations citywide, was singled out.

The Center For an Urban Future is an independent institute dedicated to highlighting office opportunities and challenges facing New York City and other cities.

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