NEW YORK—In his State of the City speech last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a shout-out to the millions of immigrants who make New York City their home. He reaffirmed his commitment to national immigration reform, calling it the “single biggest step we can take to promote innovation in New York City,” and said the broken system destroys American jobs every day.
“We can’t wait. Every day businesses are starting overseas, and we want them to start here. Let’s make it happen,” said the Mayor, to cheers.
And he’s not waiting. In typical form, Bloomberg’s local plan involves business, large and small:
“We’ll launch a new program to connect immigrant entrepreneurs to the information they need to open small businesses – and the loans and expertise they need to grow and expand. We’ll also enter into a new partnership with a major bank – Citi – that will get credit flowing to hundreds more qualified small businesses in all five boroughs.”
So what, exactly, will this immigrant entrepreneurial program look like? Well, that hasn’t been entirely hammered out yet. According to Jason Post at the Mayor’s Press Office, the first step is to survey immigrants entrepreneurs and small business owners across the city to find out what help they need in creating or growing their businesses.
The City’s Economic Development Corporation will compile results and identify trends. In response, the City’s Small Business Services agency and the Mayor’s Offfice of Immigrant Affairs will collaborate to create new services to ensure that small immigrant business owners have the knowledge and programs they need. This will include everything from connecting them to small business loans; helping them navigate city regulations;, licensure in their languages; or even helping establish chambers of commerce or BIDs in immigrant business districts.
Feet in Two Worlds will be tracking the development of this program throughout the year. Often, immigrants have trouble navigating municipal bureaucracy and can be isolated from opportunities due to language and cultural barriers. We’ll see if Bloomberg’s promise can break that trend.