New York, February 22, 2009 – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer today called for coordinated City inspections for new businesses. The goal of this initiative, part of the Speaker’s “Open for Business” plan announced in her State of the City address, will be to cut down on long wait times new business owners must face to complete inspections prior to opening. Speaker Quinn was joined by Council Member Tom White, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Carl Hum, President of the Queens Chamber of Commerce Jack Friedman, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Nancy Ploeger, and Owner of Restaurant 10 Downing Stephane Dorian.

There are over 220,000 small businesses in New York City, and businesses with fewer than 100 employees comprise 98% of all businesses and employ nearly 50% of all new Yorkers in the private sector. Small businesses are required to obtain a number of permits and inspections from various City and State agencies before they can open their doors. Right now, the majority of these inspections are sequential, requiring an inspection by one agency, findings to be made, and reports to be sent, before the next agency will schedule their inspection. As a result, small businesses often spend time and money waiting months to open due to the inspection process. For example, a restaurant in New York City must go through on-site inspections by at least five different agencies before it can open.

The cost to small businesses, especially in difficult fiscal times, of carrying a space for months with no revenue can potentially put a business out of business before it opens.
The City is already capable of coordinated inspections when the local community complains about an establishment – in fact they have been doing it for years. In the case of a complaint, the City will coordinate a “MARCH Operation”, which will send out teams of inspectors from multiple agencies to ensure businesses are being run properly.

“Helping our small businesses open and grow is a major priority during these difficult economic times,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Coordinating City inspections for these new businesses is a simple, no cost, and common sense solution to help these entrepreneurs ‘open for business’ as early as possible. The City already coordinates visits to catch businesses breaking the law, so there is no reason that agencies can’t coordinate and streamline the visits to help these hard working New Yorkers open their doors.”

“In these trying economic times, we should be doing everything in our power to support small business owners,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler. “I commend Speaker Quinn on her initiative to streamline the permitting process for small businesses in the city. This is not a time to subject bold entrepreneurs to unnecessary bureaucratic delay.”

“Opening the doors of a new store is one of the proudest days in the life of a small business owner. But in New York City, we’ve made entrepreneurs wait too long for that happy day and jump through too many hoops to get there,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “That’s why we have to make it easier for businesses to open up and stay open, bolstering our neighborhoods and keeping New Yorkers working.”

Councilman Thomas White Jr. said, “The one issue that that I often hear from small business owners throughout my district and from entrepreneurs across this city is the difficulty in coordinating the inspections from the various agencies that are required in order to obtain operating permits or licenses. During a severe economic downturn it is important for small businesses, which are the life blood of this City and provide nearly 50 percent of the jobs, to have a partnership with City government and the various agencies that makes it easier to start a business and meet the necessary requirements in order to open their doors in a timely manner.”

“Businesses are what drive New York City forward, but they have been punished by an inspection process that has required time-intensive and wasteful scheduling with various city agencies,” said Councilman Simcha Felder. “Consolidating this process is a great step forward in giving small businesses every opportunity to get off the ground and be competitive, productive parts of our economy. I would like to thank Speaker Christine Quinn for her insightful leadership in this proposal.”

“Starting a restaurant in New York City can be an expensive and time consuming venture,” said Stephane Dorian, Owner of restaurant 10 Downing. “I would have liked to open my restaurant in six months, but had to wait over a year in order to complete all necessary inspections. Streamlining and consolidating the inspection process would be invaluable to small business owners, so that we can open for business as quickly as possible and for less money. I want to thank Speaker Quinn for working to make this a reality.”

“In prior recessions, it has been small businesses and entrepreneurs that led us toward recovery, said Carl Hum, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “That’s why it’s so important to get our small businesses doing what they do best – employing locally and stimulating our economy. And Speaker Quinn’s initiative to cut waiting times and coordinate City inspections will do exactly that.”

“Speaker Quinn’s coordinated inspection program proves that not all problems require a great deal of money to fix,” said Jack Friedman, President of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Her solution addresses a major problem that affects small businesses efforts to open, doesn’t add additional costs to the budget and will have an immediate positive impact when implemented. We commend the Speaker and applaud her out-of-the-box solution that will help businesses open in a more timely fashion.”

“I am thrilled with the Speaker’s recommendation to coordinate the inspection process for new businesses,” said Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses have to go through so many loopholes in order to open their doors, and anything that can ease their burden during that process is critical. Streamlining and coordinating inspections will make it easier for these businesses so that they can actually get to the business of doing business.”

“Small businesses in New York City often have to spend so much time and money in order to open” said Dirk McCall, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village – Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “Speaker Quinn’s proposal to streamline and coordinate inspections for new businesses will do so much to help these owners open their doors and get to work.”