City Council bill creates new online small-business portal – Crain's New York Business

New York City is bringing its small-business regulations into the 21st century, but it appears there are competing visions coming out of the City Council and the mayor’s office.
The council voted Thursday to pass a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Julie Menin of Manhattan that would establish a new website and digital application for city departments and small businesses to conduct their regulatory back-and-forth. The bill had 40 co-sponsors coming out of the small-business committee and passed Thursday before the full council on a 50-0 vote.
The bill from Menin, who chairs the small-business committee, appears to mirror an effort by the Adams administration to place government operations online.
Mayor Eric Adams in January announced his intention to create a MyCity portal, a digital hub for New Yorkers to manage a variety of city services, including child care access, rental assistance, unemployment benefits and city ID card registration. During his campaign for mayor, Adams said he intended for MyCity also to serve businesses wanting to renew permits or challenge fines and penalties.
The Department of Small Business Services could not give a clear time frame of when MyCity is expected to be completed.
The council’s One-Stop Shop NYC Business Portal is required—on paper—to be up and running by Nov. 1, 2023.
SBS spokesperson Josh Jamieson said the agency is pleased with the council’s plan, and he acknowledged the similarities between the two visions. Jamieson added that both website plans are working toward the same goal: making life easier for small businesses.
Menin said she wants a dedicated hub for business.
“Given the city’s problems with online vaccination appointments during Covid-19 and more recently during monkeypox, it is critical that we have a targeted portal for small business,” she said.
Her bill seeks to streamline city government operations by creating a single online source for small businesses to apply for licenses, receive and monitor the status of permits, pay and contest fines and penalties, and consolidate all paperwork necessary to open and operate a business.
“This is a commonsense, effective but incredibly straightforward way to help small businesses,” she said. “The bureaucratic red tape you have to go through in opening up a business—it’s renewals, licenses, fees—it makes no sense. We’re finally streamlining it.”
Of the more than 200,000 businesses in the city, 98% have fewer than 100 employees.
Those small businesses face a maze of more than 6,000 rules and regulations and might need to sort through hundreds of permits and licenses.
The nonprofit Institute for Justice released a study this year that found it takes at least 56 steps to open a barbershop in the city, of which 12 must be completed in person. The study also found it costs $2,882 on average to open a restaurant in the city, and that no fewer than eight agencies and 20 different forms and applications are required to approve a restaurant’s opening.
“This is honestly ridiculous, for a business that has to take off like this,” Menin said. “We need to make sure the government is not standing in the way of small businesses. This is all about efficiency, and it’s about providing critical support that small businesses deserve.”
The council’s bill calls for a new website and app to be created and operated in a joint effort between the SBS and the commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
The Adams administration has signaled support for the bill, as has the New York State Restaurant Association, the Street Vendor Project and the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
View the discussion thread.
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