Think New York City business and you think Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Silicon Alley, and Donald Trump.
But City Hall now is looking beyond the big boys to help smaller business shake off some of the government shackles critics say have been slowing growth, and in some cases, killing businesses. Baby steps, maybe, but a worthwhile example to other large cities.
The City Council speaker Christine Quinn announced the formation of a regulatory review panel to examine city rules affecting small business, according to Crain’s New York Business. The goal: Strip away the outdated and unnecessary.
She also has recommended that the panel develop a small-business impact statement before the city approves any new regulations. Crain’s reported that an estimated 70,000 small businesses in 55 categories are licensed by the city's Department of Consumer Affairs alone, not to mention myriad regulations enforced by other agencies.
Though New York’s sky-high rents and gnarled traffic are unique around the nation, like other cities it has come to depend on fines and penalties to fill the coffers while tax receipts plunge.
According to Crain’s, the city plans to take in $894 million in fines in fiscal 2010, up $112 million from the previous year. While much of that will come from tougher traffic rules and data mining to catch up to scofflaws, small businesses are wary.
To that end, the City Council is putting together legislation to create a three-month penalty-forgiveness period on fines and penalties owed for quality-of-life violations issued by agencies like the Department of Buildings, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Sanitation, and the Fire Department. It will also waive interest and late fees for businesses that can prove they’ve corrected the underlying problems.