The city reopening is well underway, but many small businesses are struggling to recover, according to one of Mott Haven’s most prominent business boosters.
Third Avenue Business Improvement District CEO Michael Brady urged small businesses around The Hub to apply for Personal Protective Equipment, during an appearance on BronxNet last week. The city needs to do much more than it has been doing to reverse the trend, he said.
“I think it’s time for New York City to really get serious about small businesses,” said Brady. “We can’t sit here and say that small businesses are the backbone and, you know, life of our city, if we’re not really going to support them both legislatively and through other opportunities.”
The Bronx had the second lowest number of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans among the five boroughs, although small businesses boroughwide did receive more help in the second round. Although the second round bounce helped some businesses get back on their feet, he said, it still falls well short of what’s needed because about a quarter of the borough’s businesses had already gone under when the first round of PPP was distributed.
The recent lifting of COVID restrictions has helped some small businesses that lacked any margin to recover, but the skyrocketing price of food has forced many to raise their prices, further affecting their bottom line, Brady said.
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson recently announced a Small Business Relief Bill that will aid small business owners who have been burdened with fines during the pandemic. A long investigation into the city’s rules for small businesses, has led her and fellow Councilmember Mark Gjonaj to conclude that about 200 regulations currently in place to regulate small businesses, are unnecessary because they have no consequences for public health.
One new bill proposes that business owners get a chance to address violations against them before the city can impose any penalties. A second provides them an amnesty period when they have to pay fines.
The city’s treatment of the Bronx during the economic downturn has been nothing new, said Brady.
“We really have to focus on that neighborhood wealth development, to make sure that the next pandemic or the next crisis that happens, the Bronx isn’t left out of the equation again,” he said.