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De Blasio touts plan to support small biz in boro

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio sits at a roundtable discussion last week to discuss the problems small business owners face, such as excessive inspections and unfair fines. Photo by Bianca Fortis
TimesLedger Newspapers

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio stopped in Forest Hills Friday to announce a five-step plan to encourage the growth of small business in New York City.

Small businesses are a vital part of the city’s economy and a key source of job creation, de Blasio said. He would implement the plan if elected mayor.

“The bottom line is, we have a lot to be proud of, but we need to make sure that our economy works for everyone,” de Blasio said at a roundtable discussion at Haveli, an Indian restaurant. “We need to make sure there’s opportunity for everyone.”

The five steps of the program are:

• Create economic development hubs in at least 12 immigrant and low-income neighborhoods;

• Establish a $100 million revolving loan fund for neighborhood entrepreneurs;

• Promote entrepreneurship training in even more languages;

• Give local businesses, including immigrant small businesses, a second shot at city contracts;

• End the fine assault on small businesses by banning inspection quotas and creating a tiered classification of business offenses.

• De Blasio said that in his current role as city public advocate, his office released a report that determined the majority of small business owners had not had positive dealings with the city.

“All they knew about city government is when someone showed up to do an inspection,” he said.

Dee Arabian, who owns Dee’s, a Forest Hills Italian restaurant, shared an anecdote that illustrated de Blasio’s point: Arabian’s awning outside his restaurant that advertises catering because he offers private events inside the restaurant drew the attention of a city inspector who kept asking him pointed questions as if to trap him.

The inspector then determined Arabian was running an illegal catering operation without a license and slapped him with a $5,100 fine and a padlock order, he said.

Arabian said that sometimes it is not just immigrants who do not understand the rules and regulations of operating a small business.

“I was born here and I don’t always understand the rules,” Arabian said. “As business owners we want to do the right thing. We want to abide by the rules. And sometimes we think we’re abiding by the rules but we later find out that we’re not.”

Friday’s event was the fifth of de Blasio’s weeklong “Emerging Industries Tour,” which focused on growing the city’s economy and connecting New Yorkers to jobs.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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