The Five-Borough Chamber Alliance includes the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens Chambers of Commerce, and represents most of the 200,0000 small businesses throughout New York City. 85% of our membership consists of companies with ten or fewer employees; however, collectively these companies account for the majority of New York City’s employment.
The COVID-19 virus represents an unprecedented crisis that will have lasting economic impacts the likes of which cannot be fully quantified at this time. This said, what we do know is that small businesses throughout the boroughs will face a disproportionate impact as a result of the crisis. For example, restaurants, retailers, construction firms and small manufacturers do not have the means to close and operate remotely. Depending on the duration of the crisis, many businesses will face difficult decisions that will include laying off employees, suspending hours of operation, and possibly closing indefinitely. This crisis has the potential of significantly disrupting the small ecosystem that has fueled New York City’s economy and supported our neighborhoods for generations.
Given this reality, the Five-Borough Chamber Alliance strongly recommends that the City and State take the following proactive actions immediately to support the many small businesses throughout New York City:
1) Suspend the NYS sales tax for an initial period of six months; Reduce the NYS business income tax by half for 2020
2) Repeal New York City’s Commercial Rent Tax on small businesses; Table indefinitely, any legislation related to a commercial vacancy tax or commercial rent control
3) Suspend the plastic bag ban to maximize convenience and flexibility for consumers and retailers
4) Repeal the City’s Fair Workweek Law which imposes worker scheduling mandates on retailers and restaurants
5) Expand the City’s proposed no-interest loan program to include any small business (less than 100 employees) that has experienced a quarterly decline in revenue, and increase the maximum loan amount to up to $250,000; Create a targeted no-obligation grant program for businesses that are required close as a result of COVID-19
6) Create a fund to support small businesses that undertake “deep cleanings” as a result of a confirmed employee COVID-19 infection
7) Waive the March 30th sidewalk café consent fees and eliminate its 18% annual interest rate imposed on fees when restaurants opt to pay in multiple installments
8) Place a moratorium on non-health related business violations and fines
9) The City Council should expedite the passage of Int. 1908-2020, which will cap excessive third-party delivery fees by companies like Grubhub/Seamless at 10%.
10) Convene a State and City task force of small business and business associations, government agencies, and legislators, to examine and reassess various conditions and recommendations on an ongoing basis to remain responsive to the rapidly evolving nature of the crisis as it relates to small enterprises
We recognize that the situation on the ground is fluid, and the conditions are changing day-by-day. We offer these recommendations as immediate steps to demonstrate unwavering support for the small business community. As Chambers of Commerce, we stand ready to serve as the eyes, ears, and voice of this community, and we pledge to work with all stakeholders to ensure that reasonable solutions are implemented on the ground.
Lisa Sorin Randy Peers Linda Baran Tom Grech Jessica Walker
Bronx Chamber Brooklyn Chamber Staten Island Chamber Queens Chamber Manhattan Chamber