New York state must do more to support small businesses, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages told members of the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce last week.
Solages (D-Elmont), who has been on the job for 10 months after winning the newly created 22nd Assembly District seat last year, spoke to local business owners and professionals on Oct. 23 at Café Marcello. She offered tips on how to cut through some of the red tape that hinder the growth of small businesses.
“The backbone of our community is our small businesses,” she said. “These are the engines that run our community.”
While the Green Acres Mall is the largest employer in her district, which spans from Floral Park to North Woodmere, she said small businesses collectively are actually the largest employer on Long Island. Solages said she grew up in a small business, working in family-owned La Baguette Café in Queens.
Solages explained that New York ranks 49th out of 50 states for business friendliness. She said the complicated tax codes, fees and onerous regulations are just some of the problems that small businesses face.
“We have a lot of red tape and bureaucracy here in New York,” she said. “It really takes a lot to have a small business and unfortunately, in the state of New York, we’re not business friendly.”
Solages discussed a law that she sought to have passed earlier this year, a small business crime prevention service bills. She said this would have given businesses access to grants and low interest loans to implement crime prevention strategies, and would have created a website to warn business owners about possible scams.
She said she would still fight to try and get this law passed. Solages also said that she will work to support small business growth within her own district.
In Valley Stream, which Solages said has a great resource in the downtown business district, she would like to create a redevelopment zone. State funds could be allocated to build up Rockaway Avenue to provide more housing for young professionals, which, she explained, would mean more customers to support local businesses.
Already, Solages said, Valley Stream is on the right path with a Complete Streets program and a study in the works to look at development around the LIRR station.
Solages told business owners to take advantage of the state’s Small Business Development Center. On its website, she said, there are numbers for owners to call if they have questions on a variety of issues, such as workers compensation, insurance and work place safety.
Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Gyulay said Solages was very informative and hopes that the Assemblywoman can implement some changes that would improve the business climate in the state.