Silicon Valley may still reign supreme for being the top startup ecosystem in the country but with obnoxious taxes and rent skyrocketing it doesn't hold the number-one spot for supporting these small businesses. Instead, Silicon Alley nabs the coveted position.
A new report says New York City is an exceptional model of local governments prioritizing small business and an environment that fosters small-business development.
This finding came from the National League of Cities' report “Big Ideas for Small Business,” a document intended to give municipal leaders strategies and ideas they can use to boost their local economies and strengthen business communities.
New York City lead the way based on its proactive initiatives including its businesses website, NYC.gov/Business, that contains user-friendly starter guides to help entrepreneurs navigate through opening requirements and city agency processes. Owners of existing businesses can also use a dashboard on the site to help keep track of license renewal dates. It was reported that these initiatives helped businesses open 2.5 months earlier than expected.
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“City governments should take a look at their services through the eyes of small-business owners and determine how to improve their experiences,” said Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel in the report’s foreword. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. Yet too often, those businesses don’t know how to navigate local offices and agencies.
For cities to improve their offerings, the report outlined what governments can do to connect small-business owners with the tools they need to be successful. Examples included were creating incubator spaces, supporting microlending and crowdfunding options, streamlining regulations and connecting entrepreneurs to mentorship programs.
A main reason for such a push on helping the small-business community is its importance in the economy. In the U.S. small business account for 54 percent of all sales and have created 63 percent of net new post-recession jobs, the report states.
The other cites highlighted for their best practices include Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Miss., Los Angeles, Louisville, Ky., Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
Detroit received props for its BizGrid infographic, which gives small businesses and entrepreneurs guiding principles and informs them of what resources they can take advantage of at various stages of development.
Kansas City’s Business Customer Service Center, KCBizcare, helps entrepreneurs with specific “roadmaps” to open a business, provides computer access to look up property and zoning information, access city records and submit online applications and provides referrals to other city departments involved in regulation.
Chicago has its own curated Kickstarter page called Seed Chicago to help small businesses raise capital through nontraditional means. Campaigns have helped business like food trucks and florists and funded efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and promote education. The city also has an incubator program called 1871 whose tenants include startups as wells as universities and bigger players in the technology industry.
The report came from the Big Ideas for Small Business network, an association launched by the City of Chicago's Innovation Delivery Team and the National League of Cities.
We ask cities across the country to join us as we strive to deliver better services and create friendlier environments for small businesses to start up and prosper,” said Emanuel.