NYC Council passes bill that eases small businesses launching process

Simeon Davidov

The New York City Council unanimously passed a bill to promote the process of starting up small businesses for citizens on Sept. 29. The bill must be signed into law by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to go into effect.

The bill is supported by City Council Memberwoman Julie Menin, who used to own a restaurant, and sponsored by 41 other council members. It would require the commissioner of small business services to create a “One-Stop Shop NYC Business Portal,” which will have all the necessary legal and procedural information to operate a small business.

The point of this portal is to make it much easier for people to launch small businesses, compared to the current process which is quite difficult to navigate. Examples of uses of the portal include acquiring applications, permits and licenses; accessing notices of violation and paying outstanding balances.

The current process for registering a business in the city has been described by applicants as  long and tedious. It consists of filing a business certificate, forming an organized business, obtaining an employer identification number, getting a sales tax number, registering a vendor and resale number and obtaining necessary licenses and permits.

As can be imagined by putting together all these components to register a single business, most of these materials are not regularly available in a lone source. They must be completed through various websites and scouted.

These processes may be challenging for individuals who want to start a small business. Some people even quit partially through the application process  due to the difficulty of acquiring all the necessary permits and filing all the paperwork.

“For too long, we stifled the entrepreneurial spirit in New York City,” Adams said at a May news conference to reduce small business fines, according to the New York Post. “No one wanted to do business here, no one wanted to go through the bureaucracy […] That is not how we are going to run this city.”

Depending on the type of occupation, smaller businesses currently must check over 5,000 rules and regulations as well as 200 business-related licenses and permits in order to be in accordance with the law. As an example, to start a barbershop, the owner applying must go through 56 steps before having the chance to be approved.

“Running a restaurant in NYC requires small business owners to navigate a big bureaucracy, an alphabet soup of separate regulatory agencies such as DOH, DOB, DEP, FDNY and DCWP, each with their own permits, requirements, and systems,” Andrew Riggie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement to the New York Post.

Although not every business requires a license, most companies will require some to have a certificate of authority to sell goods and services, which is a sales tax certificate used to collect and pay sales tax. Some licenses include sales tax certificates, professional licenses, general vendor licenses, liquor licenses and food permits.

“We haven’t done nearly enough to support our small businesses and yet they are the backbone of our city – it’s so dysfunctional and we wonder why one third of our city’s small businesses have closed during the pandemic!” Menin told the New York Post. “We learned in COVID that almost any interaction can be conducted online.”