New York City. Undoubtedly, nearly everyone has an image or idea that comes to mind when they hear that name. Maybe it’s a picture of the New York City skyline, or a memory of a time you walked through Central Park on a windy afternoon. So why did we choose New York City as our next Access to Capital destination? Because small businesses are essential to growing the New York City economy and are an integral part of New York’s culture.
Fact: Businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up 90 percent of the businesses in the NYC metropolitan area, a higher percentage than all but one of the United States’ 363 metropolitan regions. Fact: Small businesses in NYC with four or fewer employees had a net gain of over 30,000 jobs between 2000 and 2013, while businesses with 500 or more employees had a net loss of approximately 5,000. Fact: Because of both the large percentage of small businesses and the potential for job creation originating from them, there is obvious importance to having thriving small businesses in the New York City community.
Despite this importance, however, many of these small business are remaining just that – small. New York City is expensive and competitive, meaning many small businesses may be afraid to branch out because of competition with bigger businesses and the numerous other small businesses in the area.
That’s where our Access to Capital initiative can help. In order to grow, small businesses may need to hire more employees, lease new spaces, or purchase raw materials on a greater scale. All of these actions require capital, which small businesses likely don’t have. Access to Capital aims to inform small businesses of their funding options and to connect them with lenders, as well as introduce them to community resources, which can provide support and answer questions throughout their funding journey.
Many of the small businesses in the NYC area that have managed to expand cite the following factors as being essential to their growth: learning how to enter into corporate supply chains, appealing to a wider market segment, investing in new technology and creating their own niche. With the right resources, other small business owners can learn how to do all of these things and more, and discover how they, too, can grow their business through strategies that might work for them.
All of these reasons influenced our decision to bring Access to Capital to New York. So, did we make the right decision? Judging by the success of the event and the feedback from attendees, we think it’s safe to say that yes, bringing funding to the “concrete jungle” was a great choice.
At Access to Capital New York, over 20 different financial institutions, ranging from traditional banks to alternative lenders, were on-hand to speak with small business owners about the options available to them and how to choose the right funding option for their business. Attendees were able to take a great deal away from the experience and left feeling confident that they were now moving down the right financial path. One attendee, Braology of NYC, tweeted about their rewarding experience, saying, “We had a good time yesterday learning to put Braology on the right financial path! We made great contacts … Now we’re confident in the financial path of our mission to help all women!”
Small business owners were also able to learn from others’ experiences. The guest speakers, including local and national lending experts and entrepreneurs, shared their stories, experiences and advice with attendees to help aid them in their mission to get access to capital. There was even a panel moderated by Kate Rogers from CNBC entitled “Traditional vs. Alternative Loans: What’s right for your business?” The panel was right on target with small business owners needs as alternative funding is still more popular among small businesses despite the typically lower interest rates on traditional loans. Regional SBA representative, Kellie LeDet, kicked off the event, and The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers served as a beautiful venue with complimentary breakfast and lunch for business owners. The half-day event was a valuable resource for attendees and the perfect way to round out our year.
The Big Apple is home to so many small business that it was actually pretty obvious to us why New York City was the perfect spot for Access to Capital. With the second-highest percentage of small businesses among metropolitan areas in the U.S., New York City was an ideal location for providing business education and resources to small businesses. Growing businesses have a greater potential to create jobs and more opportunity to give back to their communities. If even just a third of the city’s microbusinesses hired one new employee, they would create 55,000 new jobs. By helping these small businesses access the funding and other resources that they need, we can help them continue their growth. The growth of small businesses is exactly what can help New York City further grow its economy and continue creating more jobs and opportunities for the community.