BY SALVATORE ISOLA
Small businesses in New York continue to thrive, but for many entrepreneurs the joy of a grand opening is quickly eclipsed by the hard work of trying to sustain their business amid growing competition and overwhelming regulations.
Since 2015, the city Department of Small Business Services’ “Chamber On-the-Go” program has provided resources to thousands of small businesses. On May 10 in conjunction with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, they were in the borough to educate business owners on what the program can offer the.
“We are here for business owners who want assistance to open your business and to make sure that you are growing,” said program manager Paola Martinez at The Harvest Room in Jamaica. “We can provide you with legal and financial assistance, and we can also educate you about access to incentives and other benefits that the city has to help you.”
When small businesses use Chamber On-the-Go, they are immediately connected to a trained business specialist, who will visit the business and engage in a lengthy conversation to analyze where improvement is needed and where.
Client managers will then connect business owners to resources aimed to help them thrive, as well as navigate the minutiae of city rules and regulations.
Resources include legal assistance, access to alternate lenders, and employee training. If a business needs to add staff, the program offers recruiting and screening from a pool of qualified candidates.
Chamber On-the-Go also offers free business courses, either at New York University or online through Coursera.
“You don’t have to leave your business to complete the courses,” said Martinez.
Attendee Moe Liu spoke about the problems a friend faced when opening a Chinese restaurant, including accruing thousands in fines.
“He was hit over the head with regulations,” Liu said. “These kinds of things kill small business. Many businesses have run from New York City”
Martinez responded that such situations are common, and that’s why Chamber On-the-Go collects feedback on challenges that businesses face so they can tackle the issues before fines force new businesses to close.
“My work is to help you and connect you with resources to help you grow and to make sure that your business is thriving,” Martinez said. “We are lucky to partner with the Queens Chamber of Commerce to conduct door-to-door outreach and organize events to make sure that people know about our services.”
Carlos Diaz, a managing partner at the small IT service provider Vulcan Business Solutions, stayed after the presentation to network.
“It gives us an opportunity to meet potential clients, and also to network with other like-minded individuals who want to find ways to creatively grow our businesses,” he said.
Learn more at nyc.gov/chamberonthego.