Now, more than ever, we need to implement common sense solutions to help our community shopping strips. Small businesses are the backbone of New York City’s economy, and unfortunately they have borne the brunt of our nation’s recent downturn.  Recently, my office released a survey of 10 of Queens’ busiest shopping streets showing an average vacancy rate of 12%, with up to 1 in 5 stores closed on one busy stretch of Jamaica Avenue alone. 

I’ve proposed a five-point plan for reviving business here in Queens.

Help for small business offering health insurance

The recent Affordable Care Act includes $40 billion in tax credits for small businesses to help them offer employee coverage. The bill provides tax credits starting in 2010 to small businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 that purchase health insurance for employees. It is estimated that 60% of American’s businesses will qualify for these small business tax credits under the bill.

Tax breaks for employers who hire new workers

Congress recently passed the $15 billion HIRE Act to spur job creation, and the new payroll tax exemption included in the bill would create a common-sense, targeted, and effective way to encourage employers to begin hiring unemployed workers. 

According to Mark Zandi of Moody’s, it is estimated to spur the creation of about 300,000 new jobs. The payroll tax exemption provides businesses with an exemption from Social Security payroll taxes for every worker hired in 2010 who has been unemployed for at least 60 days. The bill would also provide an additional $1,000 income tax credit for every new employee retained for 52 weeks.  

Getting business owners greater access to capital small business loans
The House recently passed the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act to provide banks with the opportunity to make more loans to small businesses. The legislation created a new $30 billion lending fund for small and medium sized community banks to leverage up to $300 billion in lending. Simply put, we need to pass this bill.

Ease up on parking tickets

A grace period for late parkers allows middle-class New Yorkers, who are generally doing 4 things at once, to shop in local businesses without leaving the store halfway finished, and the store owners halfway compensated for the products they provide.

The extra five minutes in a parking spot without feeding the meter are worth keeping our local businesses open and thriving.

Bringing City Hall to Shopping Streets

Business owners too often need to drive out to the far reaches of their city borough to wait in line for hours and deal with local bureaucratic agencies in the hopes of solving their permit and violations issues. The city should be locally available with mobile permit and violation adjudication vans so that business owners needn’t waste a day’s time and effort in wrestling with these agencies.

Every point in this plan is uncomplicated and relatively easy to implement. While this plan won’t solve all of our economic problems, it can help lead to a revitalization in small businesses right here in Queens and across the city.