By Gina Martinez
Lawmakers and small business owners gathered at the Greater Flushing Chambers of Commerce to urge Gov. Cuomo to sign a new law that would help small businesses.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Tribeca) were pushing for a bill that would require the small business revolving loan fund already in place to issue a certain percentage of its remaining principal to micro loans and micro seed loans. Kim wants money to go to the often ignored small “small businesses,”those with five or less employees.
The proposed law would give small businesses greater access to small loans and seed funding, according to lawmakers. They claimed that in the current economic environment, mom-and-pop stores and neighborhood shops lack financial capital to compete with large corporations. They held the news conference to strongly encourage Cuomo to address the issue by signing the bill.
John Choe, executive director of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, argues that the risk of the loan is worth it.
“Flushing was one of the few neighborhoods in the city that created jobs during the 2008 recession that kept Queens afloat, creating revenue for the city and the state,” he said. “We need communities like Flushing to survive. We’re asking Cuomo to extend a lifeline, a few thousand dollars for each small business owner that will be getting these types of loans.”
He pointed out that $25 million total in the context of a state budget that is $150 billion or more is a drop in the bucket but it makes the life of all the small business owners in Flushing.
Some local business owners lack credit history or do not have a high enough credit score to take out the loans they need. Kim pointed out that one of the risks of the state not loaning to small businesses is the continuation of lending circles, particularly in the Korean community, where business owners take loans from each other at high interest rates, never actually allowing them to better their credit score.
“Local businesses are the heart of our economy and we want to make sure they have access to capital that sometimes they don’t have access to,” he said. “We’ve been at a standstill with the Assembly for a couple of years with this legislation, but I felt very strongly that this is something we need to do to make sure we make a stand for this community.”
Kim recalled growing up with parents who ran a grocery store and a nail salon for 25 years, and watching his father forced to shut down his businesses after going bankrupt.
“He was facing insurmountable odds with rent going up 300 percent overnight due to over-regulation by all sorts of government agencies at a city and state level. I saw firsthand how difficult it was for mom-and-pop stores to survive.”
Stavisky cited a Partnership for a New American Economy statistic which said approximately 31.2 percent of businesses in New York state are owned by immigrants and generate $12.5 billion in annual income for the state.
“Small business owners are the backbone of our economy and we must do all that we can to help them succeed,” she said. “ These loans are extremely important to people in immigrant communities and allow them the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”
Cuomo has until Aug. 19 to sign the bill.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart