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NYC Council passes bill aimed at helping small businesses

The City Council passed a bill on Thursday aimed at shrinking the Big Apple’s “bureaucratic maze” of regulations required to open and operate a business.

The legislation, sponsored by City Councilwoman Julie Menin (D-Upper East Side), passed unanimously in the council. If signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams, the bill could streamline the city’s tangled process small businesses go through to achieve the proper permits and licenses.

“Businesses say New York City government stands in the way of them being able to effectively operate their business by creating a bureaucratic maze of red tape,” said Menin, formerly a restaurant owner.

The bill would create an online “One Stop Shop” portal allowing businesses to submit information on one site instead of now having to coordinate through several different agencies. The platform would also allow them to check the status of applications and approvals in one place.

A person walks past a "now open" sign on a coffee shop window in Chelsea on Jan. 19, 2022 in New York City.
The city’s Small Business Services would have to create the new system by November 2023 if it is approved by Mayor Eric Adams.
Getty Images

Right now, there are over 5,000 rules and regulations and 200 business-related licenses and permits that city businesses – depending on the type of profession – have to check off in order to be in compliance with the law.

For example, in order to open a barber shop the applicant has to go through 56 different steps involving 12 different in-person interactions prior to approval.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said regulatory reform is badly needed.

Executive Director of New York City hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie speaks during Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer presser on restaurant plight during pandemic at Dirt Candy restaurant.
Andrew Rigie says reform of the regulations required to open and operate a business is necessary.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

“Running a restaurant in NYC requires small business owners to navigate a big bureaucracy, an alphabet soup of separate regulatory agencies such as DOH, DOB, DEP, FDNY and DCWP, each with their own permits, requirements, and systems,” he said in a statement.

“This overly complex regulatory maze creates confusion and red tape that results in delays and uncertainty costing time, money and headaches for small business owners.”

Menin said the long process should also be shortened because it further hinders entrepreneurs struggling to recover from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

“We haven’t done nearly enough to support our small businesses and yet they are the backbone of our city – it’s so dysfunctional and we wonder why one third of our city’s small businesses have closed during the pandemic! We learned in COVID that almost any interaction can be conducted online,” she said.

If approved by Adams, the city’s Small Business Services would be required to create the new system by November 2023.

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