WEEKEND EDITION

Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer on the Importance of Small Businesses in New York

| July 23, 2014 11:33 AMvideo

Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, outlines new plans to support immigrant-owned businesses and recruit more tech workers in an interview with MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman.

As commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, Maria Torres-Springer is responsible for working with more than 200,000 small businesses in New York City. Nearly 95 percent of the city’s businesses are considered “small businesses,” or businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and they employ more than half of the city’s private sector workforce.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and drivers of neighborhood economy,” Torres-Springer said. “Neighborhood businesses are the businesses that employ local people, they deliver important goods and services but in many ways they’re also so much more than that. They are a great equalizer, in my opinion, and a path to the middle-class for so many New Yorkers.”

The department recently announced the Immigrant Business Initiative which will work with community-based organizations across the city to deliver free services to immigrant entrepreneurs in five languages – Chinese, Korean, Haitian-Creole, Russian and Spanish.

“Given that immigrant entrepreneurs make up about 40 percent of the small businesses in New York City, there’s a real opportunity there to continue to promote and support them,” Torres-Springer told Pi Roman. “There is more that we can do to ensure that immigrant entrepreneurs continue to contribute to the economy.”

Small businesses suffered huge losses from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. More than 23,000 small businesses were affected.

“It is a critical priority of mine and the mayor’s to ensure that we are redoubling our efforts to assist businesses who are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. In the aftermath of the storm, the city deployed almost $30 million in grants and loans,” Commissioner Torres-Springer said. “We want to make sure we’re providing the type of guidance that they need to restart their business and continue to thrive.”

  • Lance

    .A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role,
    struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for anyone
    who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors,
    educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.

    As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a child of an
    immigrant, creating 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our
    country.

    More importantly, they come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering hand, lest we forget, that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American
    values for four hundred years.

    Here’s a closing quote from the book’s Intro: “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Peace.”

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