BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York

New MBPO Small Business Report Presents Ideas to Help Manhattan’s Storefronters

April 1st, 2015

Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer

Small businesses are the economic heart of New York City, especially the street-level retail stores and restaurants that keep things running 24/7 and provide the everyday necessities and comforts New Yorkers rely on. But with high rents, corporate competition, and real estate development, these businesses—what we call “storefronters”—are facing serious challenges over and above the ones small businesses typically grapple with.

To help more small businesses succeed and thrive, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office today released a report—Small Business, Big Impact: Expanding Opportunity for Manhattan’s Storefronters—at the Upper West Side storefront of The Halal Guys, small business entrepreneurs who’ve worked hard to become a stunning success story.

Our report makes recommendations that would help storefronters by taking the pressure off lease renewals, modernizing policies governing street vending, helping established small businesses threatened by rent increases by encouraging “condo-ization” of storefront space, and creating “low-intensity” commercial districts.

I was joined by Council Member Robert Cornegy, our ally in developing small-business-friendly legislation, and Noel Hidalgo, co-founder the NYC Transparency Working Group. We also heard from Halal Guys co-founder Mohamed Abouelenein, who spoke of New York City’s essential role in the expansion of his successful food cart chain into storefronts in Manhattan and around the nation and the world. He and his partners could not have done it anywhere else.


Greater NY Chamber Offers Brand Protection & Dot NYC Domains at Rock Bottom Prices

October 10th, 2014


Partners with .NYC Registrar to Help City Businesses
PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2014

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Dot NYC, The Internet’s newest domain extension goes on sale to the general public on October 8. All individuals & businesses with a physical address in New York City are now eligible to purchase a new .NYC domain name at rock bottom prices from the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce registrar partner at

“We want to help ensure that every business in the City secures its name and trademarks in the City’s new domain, .NYC, without overpaying,” says Mark Jaffe, CEO of the Greater New York City Chamber of Commerce. “This new virtual real estate is in high demand and we are very happy be a founding partner for the .NYC domain at”

The .NYC internet address benefits local businesses by improving their branding and search engine rankings. Competition for popular search engine keywords is expected to be fierce. City businesses, even if they are not ready to use their .NYC web address, are advised to secure the .NYC rights to their business names before they are snapped up by competitors, disgruntled customers or cyber-squatters.

“EnCirca is pleased to partner with the New York City Chamber of Commerce, a well-known brand trusted by businesses throughout the City,” says Tom Barrett, President of the chosen registrar company EnCirca. “We share the Chamber’s goal of ensuring .NYC domains end up with rightful owners who will use them to promote their businesses with enhanced branding and increased visibility.”

All orders fulfilled via include a suite of activation services for the new .NYC domain names; including free web forwarding and email forwarding to existing websites. For businesses who do not yet have a website, or have not yet had a chance to optimize it for mobile devices, the service also includes the award-winning website builder from IM Creator (

To take advantage of the special introductory pricing and free services, all New Yorkers have to do is order from: or Membership in the Chamber is not required.

About the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Chamber ( is to improve the business climate and quality of living in the New York Metropolitan Area for residents, workers and visitors. It provides valuable services to over 30,000 business and civic leaders who represent the backbone of the Greater New York business & civic community. The Chamber is a proud Founder of the .NYC Domain.

About EnCirca
Formed in 2001, EnCirca ( is an Official .NYC registrar and accredited by ICANN. It specializes in helping businesses protect their trademarks online and grow their internet presence. For more info, email us at or call us at: (917) 267-8847.

Press Contacts
Teena Touch Media
(415) 310-3125
Mr. Mark Jaffe
Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
(212) 686-7220

Mr. Tom Barrett
EnCirca, Inc.
(781) 492-1315



Experts Address Concerns Of City Small Business Owners

July 16th, 2014

By Azure Gilman

Aiming to raise awareness about various business growth strategies and how to navigate potentially onerous new regulations, a panel of experts at City & State’s “On Small Business” event Tuesday weighed in on the concerns of small business owners fighting to stay relevant in a competitive climate.

The event, co-sponsored by CAN Capital, focused specifically on the challenges facing New York City’s small business community, and the panel reflected a mix of representatives from the city and state government, as well as the private sector: Steve Cohen, the executive vice president and deputy commissioner of Empire State Development; City Councilman Robert Cornegy, the chair of the Council’s Small Business Committee; Julie Menin, commissioner of the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs; and Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Maria Torres-Springer, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services kicked off the event with brief remarks, pointing out that small businesses represent nearly 95 percent of all businesses in the city, and employ nearly half of the private sector workforce. Torres-Springer also ran through a list of new initiatives from the de Blasio administration that included a new tech talent pipeline, the creation of the Jobs for New Yorkers task force, a business mentorship program, and a craft entrepreneur program in Spanish, as well as more aggressive outreach to immigrant communities.

The subject of outreach to small business owners came up again during the panel discussion, with Cornegy explaining that despite the renewed engagement efforts from the city, he has found anecdotally that some small businesses are still left in the dark.

“What I found in my tenure is that there are great services, including access to capital, that businesses don’t know about because they don’t have the capacity to attend all the workshops,” Cornegy said.

Menin, perhaps trying to create distance from the policies of the Bloomberg administration, often criticized as burdensome the myriad regulations pertaining to small businesses, touted the de Blasio administration’s announcement last week of 24 reforms aimed at reducing fines for business violations, and lauded its move to put 41 inspector checklists online so that people can see what is expected of them.

But fines are not the only concern small businesses have to worry about. The panel was asked whether major legislative initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act and the city’s recently passed Paid Sick Leave, while well-intentioned, might negatively impact the health of small businesses. Cornegy, who voted in favor of Paid Sick Leave in the Council, was careful to qualify his enthusiastic support for the bill by communicating the concerns that he has heard from businesses owners.

“In and of itself [Paid Sick Leave] is a great opportunity to support workers,” Cornegy said. “But also coupled with the Affordable Care Act, [it] can potentially put a constraint on businesses for growth and development. We want to make sure there is not an unintended consequence for these great programs.”

Cornegy added that the particular concerns he heard from business owners were regarding accounting and record keeping for sick days. Addressing that apprehension, Menin said that mediation would be the first resort for any sick leave disputes between business owners and employees.

The prospect of an additional increase to the city’s minimum wage, potentially to as high as $13 an hour, is another legislative change that unnerves some small business owners. While Menin stood steadfastly behind the de Blasio administration’s call for higher wages to tackle a widening income equality gap, her co-panelists said that such a sudden, major change could be harmful to businesses.

“There’s only so much that business can afford,” Rigie said. “We did not support the recent increase in minimum wage,” he added, using the restaurant business as an example of an industry where wage scales are applied differently because of tips.

Cornegy supported the idea of an increase in minimum wage but only if it is done responsibly, and incrementally, over a period of time, and cited a fact that reflected a sobering reality in a city that is becoming more costly for the ordinary consumer.

“Even $13 an hour, if someone told you that allowed them to survive in this city, that would not be true,” he said.


From CRAIN’S NY “HealthPlus”: “Small Biz Doesn’t Get ACA”

August 10th, 2012


The Business and Labor Coalition of New York has been holding a series of free forums to answer small business owners’ questions about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. “The depth of understanding is less than what we expected,” said Lou Gordon, BALCONY’s director. The responses to the sessions suggest that a key factor in whether companies will expand benefits is affordability. Yet he said that most owners do not realize they can get a tax credit of up to 35% of what health insurance costs their business.

The presentations have been made in front of hundreds of business owners, a figure that could reach thousands in the coming months, he added. The statewide seminars are funded by a $585,000 state Department of Health grant. “I think we are going to see a lot more people covered,” said Mr. Gordon.

Read more:

The Partnership for NYC Responds to Mayor Bloomberg’s 2013 Budget

May 10th, 2012

“Continued fiscal restraint by the City has allowed for expanded investment in our public school system, without raising taxes, but more can be done if mandate reform is made a top priority,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

“State and federal mandates continue to eat up resources that the City needs to maintain essential services. Reducing some of the City’s non-discretionary costs would make additional expansions of public services possible. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to pursue mandate relief are vital to relieving some of the fiscal burden on the City and allow for further investment in vital City services like education.”


BALCONY Access for Small Business Forums

March 31st, 2010

For details on the White Plains Nov. 20, 2009 forum, click here: White Plains

For details on the Rochester Feb. 19, 2010 forum, click here: Rochester

Click here for photos from the Rochester Forum: Rochester Photos

Tom Gillett, Chris Lee, Lou Gordon

Health Care Panel

Rochester Forum: Rep. Chris Lee indicates Fed is growing too big, too fast

By Jim Stinson

A forum on small business became a place to discuss big government and possibly bigger health care plans.

Speaking to the Business and Labor Coalition of New York at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, U.S. Rep. Chris Lee said the federal government is growing too big and expanding its payroll, and that even during the recession Washington, D.C., saw growth in its gross metropolitan product while many other regional economies were contracting.

“The federal government cannot employ all the people in this country,” said Lee, R-Clarence, Erie County, as he ticked off examples of government growth. For that reason, he said, he voted recently against extending the federal debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion.

But not everyone at Friday’s forum agreed that shrinking all government programs would benefit small business.

Some speakers expressed solidarity with President Barack Obama’s plan for health care reform, which seeks to extend insurance coverage to most Americans.

Lee said after his speech that he supports health care reform, and thinks the Democrats and Republicans should pass a bill they can agree on, leaving out parts on which they differ.

Jim Bertolone, Rochester local president of the American Postal Workers Union, noted that health care costs rose through the past decade, from 15 percent of U.S. gross domestic product to 17 percent of GDP.

To combat rising costs, Bertolone suggested applying a program like Medicare to all citizens. He also said that worrying about budget deficits during a time of unprecedented recession was like conserving water during a house fire.

Businesspeople also received advice from banking officials such as Jeffrey Barker, vice president of commercial services at Canandaigua National Bank & Trust.

He advised the approximately 50 people in the audience to maintain good communication with lending officers and not to surprise them by using a line of credit for reasons other than stated on the application.

Many attendees noted the economy, especially credit conditions, was still sour.

“It is a very difficult time for startups,” Barker acknowledged.

Posted under Small Business

Content Critical, LLC Opens for Business with Acquired Assets of Global Document Solutions and Astoria Graphics

March 25th, 2010


Management Team of Industry Veterans Plans Expanded Services

CARLSTADT, N.J., March 18, 2010 – Content Critical, LLC, a new technology-enabled document outsourcing company, today announced it has acquired certain assets of two leading New York-area companies – Global Document Solutions and Astoria Graphics – and is assuming immediate responsibility for servicing their customers.

“To our customers, we pledge there will be a seamless transition and no interruption in the projects now in process,” said Fred Van Alstyne, chief executive officer and president, Content Critical. “We are excited to be offering expanded state-of-the-art services to businesses across the country.”

Content Critical is backed by two highly regarded financial sponsors. The Company’s lead investor, FTV Capital, is a private equity firm with more than $1 billion under management and a focus on investing in dynamic growth businesses. In addition, Keltic Financial has provided Content Critical with a senior credit facility to help fund the Company’s expansion.
“Content Critical possesses an innovative platform, a comprehensive range of services and a unique consultative approach for servicing its blue chip clients in financial services, consumer services and telecommunications,” said FTV spokesperson Karen Gilbert. “We look forward to collaborating with Fred and his team in support of Content Critical’s near- and long-range customer service and product initiatives.”

Van Alstyne added, “At a time when our industry is besieged with economic pressures, we are pleased to be able to launch Content Critical on such firm footing. We have a great client roster, a highly experienced staff, strong capitalization and management expertise.”

In addition to Van Alstyne, the management team for Content Critical includes John Slaney, chief operating officer; and Alan Darling, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing. Former Astoria Graphics principals, Ronald Koff and Mitchell Koff, each have been named vice president, Sales. The new company has 204 employees.

About Content Critical LLC

Content Critical provides technology-enabled document outsourcing services, such as statement processing, web-to-print applications, digital variable printing and electronic document delivery, as well as traditional direct marketing and commercial printing to leading companies across the United States. The corporate headquarters are in Carlstadt, N.J. Other facilities are located in New York City, and Hayward, Calif. For information, call Ron Koff 201-528-2901 or visit

About FTV Capital

FTV Capital is a multi-stage private equity firm that invests in high-growth companies offering a range of innovative solutions. FTV Capital provides entrepreneurs with unique access to its Global Partner Network, a group of the world’s foremost financial institutions that have invested in FTV Capital and its portfolio companies for more than a decade. Founded in 1998, FTV Capital has more than $1 billion under management and has offices in San Francisco and New York. For more information, please visit

About Keltic Financial

Keltic Financial Services has specialized in providing asset-based working capital lines of credit to middle market companies for over ten years. Keltic’s credit facilities range from $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 and target manufacturing, service and distribution companies. Keltic can finance companies that are highly leveraged, in a turnaround situation or experiencing accelerated growth. Keltic can also provide capital to finance acquisitions, management buyouts, turnarounds and DIP financing. During the past decade Keltic has committed over $800 million and in addition to its headquarters in Tarrytown, New York has regional offices throughout the country. For more information please visit

Printer Friendly: Content Critical

Feb 19th Rochester Forum Will Help Small Business Owners Survive the Times

February 9th, 2010

Feb 19th
Rochester Forum Will Help Small Business Owners Survive the Times

Rochester, NY – BALCONY (Business and Labor Coalition of New York) will host its second Access for Small Business Forum with the goal of helping small business owners in the Rochester area. The forum will feature timely and informative workshop discussions with experts, advocates and government officials on how small businesses can survive during the current, uncertain economic times. There will be a focus on access to health care, technology solutions, and business development and capital. Congressman Chris Lee will be the keynote speaker, with presentations by local business leaders. BALCONY representatives and forum sponsors will be available for interviews.

Participating Sponsors include Excellus, Verizon, Entre Computers, Citizens Bank, Canandaigua Bank, NYS Small Business Development, Pulse Marketing Group, American Cancer Society, the Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation, Small Business Administration, NYSUT, the Small Business Majority and the NYS Health Foundation.

Jim Nofziger is Rochester BALCONY Coordinator for the Forum and Tom Gillett of NYSUT is the Rochester BALCONY coordinator.

For more information about the February 19th Forum visit BALCONY web site

What: BALCONY Access for Small Business Forum
When: February 19, 2010
8 a.m. to Noon
Where: Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
1100 S. Goodman St. Rochester NY

Cost: $25 (optional)

Register by Feb. 16 by calling 212-219-7777, or e-mail:

BALCONY report on highly successful Small Business Forum

December 14th, 2009

Small businesses are the cornerstone of the New York State economy,
accounting for 98% of all businesses and employing 52% of the non-farm, private sector workforce.

Even in the best of economic times, New York Small Businesses are facing insurmountable challenges due to excessively high taxes, high regulatory costs, and burdensome processes. And, now those issues have become compounded during this time of recession. Small Businesses need to know where to turn for some answers, which is why BALCONY has taken on this challenge.

Featured Speaker
Adam Bradley
White Plains Mayor-elect and
NYS Assemblyman of the 89th Assembly District

On Friday, November 20, 2009, the Access for Small Business Forum – a four-panel discussion organized by BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York and co-hosted with The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce – addressed these key small business concerns.


(Chris Levendos, Michael Ridley, Heather O’Donnell,
Chris Zawacki, Ron Koff, Lou Gordon)


(Christine Serrano Glassner, William Grinker, Rosemarie Klotz,
Jim Malski, Brian Moran, Barbara Weltman)


(Bruce Ventimiglia, Pravina Raghavan, David J. Conrad,
David Kornfeld, Paul Quintero, Louis Scamardella)


(Lou Gordon, Troy Oechsner, Ben Geyerhahn, Vince Ashton,
Peter Slocum, Ernie Vitolo)

Read the full report from this BALCONY forum
and watch the presentation videos by clicking here: REPORT


November 7th, 2009






For Immediate Release November 9, 2009

Small Businesses across New York State are facing the most challenging economy in our history as revenues decline, the cost of health care increases, access to capital diminishes, and markets shrink.

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, with its business partner Verizon, media partner WCBS Newsradio880, health care partner the American Cancer Society, and small business partner The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce together seek to provide valuable solutions for small business at the

BALCONY ACCESS for Small Business Forum

November 20th

beginning at 8 :00 am

at the Crowne Plaza Hotel

66 Hale Avenue

White Plains, NY

“This event will focus on what can be done to help the more than 100,000 New York small businesses survive and prosper during this current economic crisis,” states BALCONY Business Co-Chairman Bruce Ventimiglia, “Small Businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy which employ more than one million people.”

White Plains Mayor Elect Adam Bradley will deliver the keynote address, and Bill Grinker, Chairman of the New York State Small Business Task Force, will provide an update on the major recommendations of the Task Force which are to be released before the end of 2009.

Other featured speakers include: Chris Levendos, Verizon FIOS; Pravina Raghavan, SBA New York District Director; Troy Oeschner, Deputy Superintendent for Health of the New York State Insurance Department; Peter Slocum of the American Cancer Society; Jim Maleski of ActionCOACH of CT; and Rosemarie Klotz of H & R Block.

The forum will feature timely and informative workshop discussions with experts, advocates and governmental officials on how small businesses can survive during the current, uncertain economic times. Specifically we will focus on

• Access to Capital

• Access to Health Care

• Access to Technology

• Access to Business Development

8:30 – 9:20 AM

Technology Challenges Facing Small Business

Chris Levendos, Verizon FIOS

Michael Ridley, NYSTAR

Heather O’Donnell, WCBS Newsradio 880

Chris Zawacki, GreenHouse IT

Ron Koff, Astoria Graphics

9:20 – 9:30 AM

Coffee Break

9:30 – 10:00 AM


Assemblyman –White Plains Mayor Elect Adam Bradley

10:00 – 10:50 AM

Business Development Solutions

William Grinker, NYS Small Business Task Force

Jim Malski, ActionCOACH

Brian Moran, Moran Media

Barbara Weltman, Big Ideas for Small Business

Rosemarie Klotz, H & R Block

10:50 – 11:40 AM

Access to Capital for Small Business

Pravina Raghavan, SBA New York

Bruce Ventimiglia, Saratoga Capital Management

David Kornfeld, Financial Advisor

Paul Quintero, Accion New York

Louis Scarmardella, Small Business Development Center

Steven P. Saporito, Senior Lender and Senior Vice President
Signature Bank

11:40 – 12:30 PM

Access to Healthcare for Small Business

Troy Oechsner, NYS Dept. of Insurance

Ben Geyerhan, Small Business Majority

Ernie Vitolo, Atlantis Health Plan

Vincent Ashton, HealthPass

Peter Slocum, American Cancer Society

12:30 – 1:00 PM

Closing Networking Reception

To register for the conference contact Allison Hirsch or Christine Serrano Glassner at BALCONY (212) 219-7777

or visit the BALCONY Website

For More Information contact Balcony Director Lou Gordon (212) 219-7777;  e-mail: