2009-05-21 / From The Mayor...


Helping Small Businesses In Tough Economic Times

A barbershop in Brooklyn. A family clothing store in Queens. An electrical contractor in the Bronx. A bakery, a fuel delivery company, and a shoe repair shop.

Those are the kinds of small businesses that hold our neighborhoods together. Earlier this month, they were among the first 28 of what we expect will be up to 400 small companies and non-profit organizations throughout the five boroughs to receive 'NYC Capital Access' emergency loans. Our Administration has worked with private sector lenders to develop this program. In the months ahead, loans ranging from $1,500 to $250,000 will enable businesses to buy new equipment meet day-to-day expenses and, most importantly, keep their doors open and make their payrolls. For example, I met the owner of a small garment factory that employs 50 people in Bushwick. He's going to use a loan to keep his business going until later in the year, when orders for his sweaters are expected to pick up.

Our Administration launched the NYC Capital Access program because we recognize that the national recession is hammering many of the small businesses that employ half of all New Yorkers who work in the private sector. They're being denied loans even when their credit histories are spotless. So we've redirected $5 million in City funds to the Capital Access Program, which will guarantee up to 40 percent of loans being provided by Citibank and a number of credit unions and other lenders. In total, we expect about $13 million in loans to go out. And as they're repaid, the program will be able to generate another cycle of new small business loans.

The Capital Access Program is just one element of our Administration's Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan - our strategy for fueling New York City's economic recovery as quickly as possible. We are also moving ahead on another aspect of that plan: helping New Yorkers navigate their personal finances through today's treacherous economic waters, when problems are mounting and people often don't know what to do or where to turn for help.

Using private money raised through the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, we opened three new "Financial Empowerment Centers" - one each in Washington Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Jamaica. They're modeled on the city's successful first Financial Empowerment Center, which opened last June in the Melrose section of the Bronx. These centers provide free, confidential, one-on-one counseling, in English and Spanish, on issues like credit card debt and household budgeting.

And because we know that such personal financial problems are on the rise for many New Yorkers, we're getting out the word about our Financial Empowerment Centers this month with ads in subways, and on bus stands and phone kiosks, and also by distributing 300,000 flyers in targeted communities. And of course, you can find out more about financial empowerment, about our NYC Capital Access Program, and about our Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan by calling 311 or visiting the City's web site at www.nyc.gov.

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