Lindsey Boylan’s Plan to
Small businesses in New York City once served as hubs for community and culture. But over the past several years, vacant retail space roughly doubled — with some surveys showing that more than 20 percent of retail space in NYC is vacant.
Many cities across the nation are in the midst of a perfect storm between the rise of online shopping — which shows no sign of slowing down — and landlords that keep spaces vacant to hold out for higher rent. Updates to legislation and creation of programs for new opportunities are required to make sure community businesses can thrive.
As Deputy Secretary of Economic Development for the state of New York, Boylan oversaw programs awarding hundreds of millions of dollars for investment in downtown revitalization across NY and NYC. The funds were used to build a sustainable path for retail and small businesses as a foundation for creating communities where people work, live, and raise families.
Boylan plans to take that experience to Washington, D.C. and “Invest in Small Business for a Thriving Community” by sponsoring legislation to:
1. Protect Vital Business and Revitalize Street Level Retail
- Expand federal funds for cities to take advantage of the Community Development Block Grant program, funded out of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for small businesses that supply communities with vital necessities such as laundromats, dry cleaners, hardware stores, and other services less likely to be affected by online shopping such as food establishments, grooming services, and activities for children.
- Provide easier access to capital, such as expanding the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, to entrepreneurs in urban centers who have business ideas that help build culture and community.
2. Invest in Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses
- Ensure women- and minority-owned businesses have access to certifications for federal contracts and are recruited for upcoming projects.
- Focus funding and capital grant giving to small businesses in low-income neighborhoods to help owners get their business off the ground.
- Resource business training programs and offer support services such as legal, human resources, and marketing expertise.
3. Provide Entrepreneurs a Safety Net for Market Mishaps
- Develop business continuity grants under the Small Business Administration (SBA) to extend to underserved communities, similar to those provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for unanticipated losses and major disruptions due to weather disasters. While SBA has access to low-interest loans, going a step further to provide continuity grants would prevent the failure of many small businesses due to weather disasters or infrastructure overhauls, like the L train shutdown — which at one point threatened small businesses in and around 14th St. straight through to Williamsburg, had it stopped running.
- Reform tax codes to encourage landlords to rent vacant storefronts rather than write off losses for empty space while holding out for higher rent.
- Ease debt terms that prevent landlords from lowering rent unless they can prove the rental market has come down.
“This district, known as a haven for the latest trends, one of a kind goods, and unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, is now made up of long stretches of vacant space. The mom and pop shops that once defined the various neighborhoods of our community are gone. As our economy transforms, we must keep our communities intact while we pave the way for economic development.” — Lindsey Boylan