Support Asian Americans by supporting our small businesses – QNS.com
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In this Asian-American Heritage Month, we need to think bigger than #StopAAPI Hate. Certainly, we need to fund hate crime efforts within the NYPD and our schools. But we can also help Asian Americans by helping them build their economic power and realize their American dream.
Like many Asian Americans in New York City, I immigrated to this country with a college degree from my home country, India, but struggled to find a job when I arrived. here. I worked in a convenience store, fast food restaurant and as a taxi driver before starting my own insurance business.
Thanks to the hard work and equity I put into my small business, I was able to pay off my debts. I was able to afford a house in a safe neighborhood with good schools for my children. I was able to get things done, joining local civic organizations and helping other immigrant entrepreneurs start their own businesses and live their American dream. Barely two decades after I came to this country, I am now running to represent Eastern Queens on City Council.
According to the Center for an Urban Future, there are approximately 47,000 Asian-American businesses in New York City. In my borough of Queens, more than a third of the businesses are owned by Asian companies. Yet just as Asian Americans have suffered from bias over the past year, our small businesses have suffered. A study suggests that the number of Asian-American business owners active nationwide fell by 20% last year.
Our local elected officials marched and gave speeches to stop the hatred of AAPI, and now is the time for them to revive the economic hopes of Asian Americans.
First, our small businesses need commercial rent control. Just as a successful small business can set the stage for the American dream, soaring commercial rents can derail careers and families. The impact of astronomical rents is being felt by family businesses owned by immigrants without cash reserves or access to government subsidies, including businesses owned by Asian countries. This is hardly a problem for supermarkets, national chains and well-connected companies. While reasonable commercial rent controls have been proposed several times to New York City Council, it has never been enacted – now is the time to do it as our small businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic.
Second, we need to invest in a lot better awareness and training to help our small businesses and entrepreneurs access government programs and win government contracts. In the first round of P3 loans, Asian Americans had the fewest loans approved of any demographic in the country. Throughout the pandemic, Asian and immigrant businesses in Queens have struggled to keep up with existing regulations, as well as the various programs and applications for city, state and government grants and benefits. federal government. Most of these companies do not have attorneys as agent or decades-old relationships with large banks. Some business owners have poor English or computer skills.
New York City officials can help by going in communities and go door-to-door to talk to business people, not just posting flyers online. They need to build better relationships with trusted community business leaders such as IDBs and small businesses and local development companies (SBDCs and PMAs) and use these leaders as ambassadors to share information. They must provide information in languages other than English. And they must dramatically expand existing programs to help small minority-owned businesses access the $ 20 billion well of government contracts. For example, only 13 companies in total participated in the City’s “Strategic Steps for Growth” program in fiscal year 2019-2020, while the City hosted only three events for its “Mentors by People” program. peers ”in the first semester of 2020-2021.
These steps to help small businesses are just the start, but they are part of any comprehensive approach to helping our Asian community. They will also empower black and Latino business owners and communities who face racism and injustice in our city and country.
Economic prosperity is the cornerstone of the American dream. If we level the playing field and give Asian Americans and people of color a path to economic success, we provide a path to real change – to success, to peace and to a better life for all. .
Sanjeev Jindal is a small immigrant businessman, South Asians for Empowerment (SAFE) leader and candidate for the 23rd district city council.
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