The latest happenings at the Chamber and the broader business community.

Chamber launches "Small Biz Agenda," a grassroots advocacy campaign to amplify small business needs in local policy-making

Monday, March 2, 2020

Chamber launches


Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Launches Grassroots Campaign to Amplify Small Business Needs in Local Policy-making


“Small Biz Agenda” Calls on Elected Officials to Implement Five Critical Changes


Monday, March 2, 2020 – Today, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce launched a new grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at amplifying the needs and concerns of small businesses in the local law-making process. The “Small Biz Agenda” urges New York legislators to do more to hear from and include the perspectives of small business owners as they craft legislation.


According to the Manhattan Chamber, many small businesses do not feel that local government has their back right now. They are overwhelmed by the numerous laws that were piled on in recent years: a doubling of the minimum wage; a 5-day paid sick leave mandate; a 12-week paid family leave mandate; major increases in property taxes; and restrictions on everything from the use of plastic bags to the way employers may schedule work shifts. Troublesome policies continue to be pushed, such as a two-week paid vacation mandate and possible elimination of “at-will” employment, among others.


Data from the JPMorgan Institute show that about a quarter of the city’s small businesses (those with 500 employees or less) that were active in 2013 had disappeared by 2017. That’s approximately 58,000 businesses. According to Mayor de Blasio there are currently 12,000 vacant storefronts across the city. This is extremely problematic, as small businesses are the anchor of New York City’s economy and the greatest source of jobs.


“All elected officials say they want to help small businesses survive, but that’s not enough,” said Jessica Walker, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “Business owners need a seat at the table in order to convey their unique struggles and be able to inform meaningful policy solutions. This is about inclusion and listening. The goal is to empower them to create and sustain jobs in our local communities.”


The “Small Biz Agenda” has five critical components designed to ensure that business owners are heard in the policy-making process:


1.     All elected officials in the city should immediately go on a “listening tour” to hear the concerns of small business owners in their communities.

2.     The city should establish an ongoing Small Business Advisory Board that would act as a sounding board on potential new policies.

3.     The City Council should implement a formal system for economic impact statements, which would allow unbiased economists to evaluate the possible impact that legislation might have on jobs and small businesses before being signed into law.

4.     Until the above items are implemented, city government should impose a moratorium on legislation that would add costs or burdens to small businesses.

5.     The city must work to bring down the cost of doing business in New York.


The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (in conjunction with its Small Business Steering Committee) will work with other organizations across the five boroughs to directly engage and organize thousands of small business owners in order to advance this agenda.


The list of endorsers of the agenda will grow in the coming months, but already includes several Business Improvement Districts throughout the city, including Atlantic Avenue BID; Jerome Gun Hill BID; Montague Street BID; North Flatbush Avenue BID; Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID; and Sunnyside Shines BID.


"Small businesses desperately need a voice in our city,” said Mark Caserta, Executive Director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID. “They need to share their concerns and struggles so that good, responsible, pro-small business policies can be made and implemented. When small businesses are healthy, our city is a better place to live, work and play.”


Small business owners themselves are also starting to push for the agenda.


Small businesses are the real job creators,” said Patrick Hall, owner of Élan Flowers. “The city and the state should help keep us in business instead of piling on the legislated burdens that are stifling our growth."


"The time is now to engage small business owners through a Small Business Advisory Board,” said Natasha Amott, owner of retail store Whisk. “Through such a board we can help uplift what makes our neighborhoods strong and what keeps New Yorkers working."


More information about the “Small Biz Agenda” campaign may be found on its website:





About the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that represents and supports the local business community across the borough. We do this, primarily, by fostering “game-changing” connections for our members and by working with government to ensure that the business climate is supportive and responsive to their needs. Through our foundation, we also host educational events for small business owners and conduct outreach to help them thrive.


In all that we do, our overall mission is to advance economic empowerment. We help the courageous entrepreneurs and business owners who put everything on the line to follow their creative ambitions, pursue financial freedom and “spread the love” by employing others. Indeed, their success is integral to New York City’s broad economic prosperity.


In 2020, our organization is celebrating its 100 Year Anniversary and is engaged in special programming and events to highlight our proud history and promising future of helping local businesses succeed.




Chris Smith


(646) 459-7036