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Brooklyn, NYC small businesspeople still struggling, bank survey finds

Peter Meyer, president, NYC Market, TD Bank, as seen at a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce event. Eagle photo by John Calabrese

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A survey of small businesspeople throughout the five boroughs by TD Bank finds that a large number of them still find the economy challenging and still need to take out loans.

Still, around half of them feel that this year will be better than the previous year. And while many are concerned about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, only a minority feel that it will necessarily have a negative impact.

In addition, many of the city’s small businesses are small indeed. Approximately 36 percent of small business owners surveyed report revenue of $100,000 or less, and 57 percent of those owners are sole proprietors.

These are among the results of TD Bank’s inaugural New York City Small Business Pulse Check. The survey polled polled 500 small business owners with revenue of $5 million or less in the five boroughs.

In general, there were few differences between the Brooklyn small businesses and others, but there were some. While 54 percent of Brooklyn small business owners reported a negative impact from the economy, this was still a smaller percentage than that reported from other boroughs – for example, 62 percent in Queens.

In addition, while only 8 percent of small businesspeople in Brooklyn or Queens applied for credit or a loan in the past 12 months, 12 percent of those in the Bronx did. Both of these statistics could point to a more healthy economy in Brooklyn.

Peter Meyer, NewYork City market president of TD Bank, said there were several reasons the bank decided to do this survey. “We wanted to make sure got some feedback, rather than depending on conventional wisdom,  and dig into the challenges. We wanted to hear directly from them.”

TD has a “different style” than most other banks, said Meyer, who is from Brooklyn. “We have local lenders in the market making decisions on a local level on loans. In other banks, a lot of the decision-making is not begin made locally.” Therefore, he said, the information revealed in the survey was “important for me and my other leaders to understand.”

Commenting on the results of the survey, he said, “I believe that around half of the busineses felt they were going to have better revenues than they did last year. While you saw only 40-45 percent are actually planning on adding staff to deal with that extra revenue, this is a good step in the right direction.”

Not hiring staff, he said, “shows cautiousness.” The trend today, he added, is  “to use all the capcity in existing staff you have, then you hire.”

While 20 percent of the small businesses surveyed are planning to take out either equipment loans or working capital loans, he commented. “That’s not a bad thing. That means companies reinvesting in themselves.”

One Brooklyn small businessperson who participated in the survey, Joseph Guido Sr., owner of Foro Marble Company on Third Street in Gowanus, spoke about some of his concerns.

In Gowanus, he said, one of the main concerns is that “the rent rolls are going through the roof. When highrise buildings are going up, they can get more money for residences than for little industrial factories.” Still, he says, some things in the neighborhood have changed for the better, such as the new Whole Foods market.

Guido says that the labor market in Brooklyn is good  -- You can find peple to do your work” – but is uncertain about adding more employees. “We’ll add more when we know we can have them on full-time steady work, not just working for a day, and we don’t have to send them home in the middle of the day.

“The economy would have to pick up a little bit more – we have to know that our cash flow is more steady,” he said.

March 5, 2014 - 8:00am


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