As part of an ongoing Small Business Listening Tour, PublicAdvocate Bill de Blasio yesterday met with Brooklyn business ownersto discuss chronic problems facing NYC small businesses. The event,held in conjunction with the Church Avenue Business ImprovementDistrict (BID) and the Flatbush Development Corporation, is one ina series of roundtables across the city.What’s good for small business is good for New York City, said deBlasio. We need to help struggling entrepreneurs so our City cancontinue to recover. But it comes across loud and clear that Citygovernment is not using every tool it has to help small businessesgrow and create jobs. Red tape and overzealous fines are actuallymaking it harder to do business here, and that’s something we haveto change.We at the Church Avenue BID are thrilled that Public Advocate deBlasio has shown such interest in small businesses in Brooklyn,said Lauren Elvers Collins, executive director of the BID. Fromthe merchant frustrated with unannounced inspections that don’tallow business owners to correct violations before being issuedtickets, to the lack of coordination between City agencies thatleaves merchants not knowing where to turn, we are hopeful that thePublic Advocate will be able to address these issues and streamlinewhat is often a complicated system.Attendees at yesterday’s event included owners from localbusinesses like Honeydew Drop Day Care, Momin Boutique, and theFlatbush Food Co-op. During the discussion, local business ownersvoiced their concerns about over-ticketing by the City for minorviolations, the Department of Buildings’ unwillingness to cooperatewith expanding businesses, and the City’s inadequate efforts toinform business owners about regulations they are required tofollow.At the meeting, de Blasio shared his recent recommendations to cutburdensome red tape affecting small businesses: Upgrade the hearing process at all City agencies overseeing smallbusinesses-including Consumer Affairs-to allow owners to contestviolations online, by phone or by mail; Develop a tiered classification system for small businessviolations at agencies that do not yet distinguish between severeand low-risk violations in their enforcement and fine schedules;and Offer business owners an opportunity to correct first-time,low-risk violations before incurring an immediate penalty.Feedback gathered at the roundtables will be the foundation of anew report issued later this year by de Blasio identifying ways theCity can better support small business and eliminate red tape thatholds entrepreneurs back.The next roundtable in De Blasio’s Small Business Listening Tourwill be held in Brighton Beach on February 8th. For moreinformation or to report a problem, contact the Public Advocate’sSmall Business Hotline: (212) 669-4691.
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