There hasn’t been a time like this in more than 10 years. The last time New York City replaced almost every citywide elected official and most of the City Council was in 2001.
Last month, New Yorkers went to the polls for a similar changeover, highlighted by the election of Democrat Bill de Blasio as the city’s new mayor.
While the new politicians, and those who were re-elected, won’t take office until the new year, business leaders throughout the city have been preparing for this passing of the torch all year. At the beginning of 2013, the Partnership for New York City released a report called the NYC Jobs Blueprint to understand how the city is currently positioned and what the opportunities are for the next administration.
The report focused on job creation, education, infrastructure, livability and government efficiency, and provides recommendations on projects the next administration and City Council should undertake.
That report spawned GOBizNYC, a coalition of small businesses, startups, chambers of commerce, industry associations, and civic and community groups collectively representing more than 20,000 enterprises, including one out of every 10 small businesses across the city.
“It’s not enough to just talk from the perspective of larger companies,” said Victor Wong, director of business outreach for the Partnership for NYC. “It’s really important to bring together the entire business ecosystem as well.”
The Partnership, a non-profit entity comprised of the city’s top business leaders, typically represents the 200 largest companies in the city, including the likes of JetBlue, American Express, Macy’s and Goldman Sachs.
But an initial goal of
GoBizNYC was to build a network of chambers, community-based groups and economic development organizations, which helped them create a network of 25,000 small businesses. Now, the goal is focused on bringing attention to the issues small businesses face and providing them a greater voice in legislative decisions.
“It’s about working with all our partners,” Wong said. “It’s not something we’re taking on entirely on our own.”
GoBizNYC will utilize groups in each borough to help communicate and collaborate on local issues.
In Staten Island, that group will be led by Carol DiMarco of Blue Label Design and Bill Marco of Marco Wealth Strategies Group.
“What we’re trying to do is create a louder voice…finding the common thread and getting it to the leadership of New York City,” Marco said.
GoBizNYC will focus on five priorities: creating more and better jobs; having better educated and more skilled workers; creating greater connectivity and accessibility; providing a safe and affordable living environment; and having an efficient, disciplined and well-run city government.
The localized GoBizNYC groups will gather insight and, out of that, a collaborative, uniform lobbying effort will be formed to help support and influence elected officials to ensure the priorities are addressed, Wong said.
For now, the group is in a wait-and-see approach, taking a pulse on big pieces of legislation that will be before the City Council.
“We really want to serve as a sounding board for the next administration and council, and make sure that we work with them and be viewed and be used as a resource,” Wong said.
“It’s really been about developing these relationships and making sure that we’re all prepared to give this insight.
“For us, it’s less about doing individual projects; it’s about grooming this set of well-informed, passionate and engaged small business owners.”
In Staten Island, Marco said it’s important that small business owners know that GoBizNYC and its focus groups exist so they can become involved and provide their own feedback. In addition to getting the word out, Marco said he and DiMarco want to find out what similar GoBizNYC groups in Brooklyn are doing and what has been successful for them, as well as bringing in guest speakers and holding open forums on the Island.
“We have to let people know that this exists. Carol and I are pretty proactive in this and pretty aggressive,” Marco said.
“We’re going to do our part to make sure Staten Island has a voice.”
While Marco said his own business might not see a direct benefit from the GoBizNYC program — since his company is a small wealth management firm — he knows that there is a direct relationship between the success of small businesses and the quality of life on Staten Island.
“I might not have a direct benefit…but I do live here. My family lives here.
“I have made an investment here,” he said.
“I want to see the quality of life improve here. I think business owners have a big impact in making sure that happens. They hire our children, and they give back to the community.”
Marco said that anyone who is interested in contributing to the effort can do so by contacting he or DiMarco, and they’ll find a role for them in the group.
“Nobody’s got a monopoly on ideas,” he said. “There are a lot of bright people here. Anyone who feels this might be a benefit to our Island…can get behind us and make sure we have an audience.”
“We really rely on (small business owners’) perspectives to understand how we can shift policy at the higher levels to really benefit them,” he said.