NYC: Immigrant-Owned Businesses Get Boost From Citi

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SBS Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, in partnership with Citi Community Development, has announced the five community-based partners selected to participate in the Immigrant Business Initiative.

The program was first announced in May and funded through a $250,000 contribution from Citi Community Development. The selected community partners include the Business Outreach Center Network, Brooklyn Public Library/HABNET Chamber of Commerce, Make the Road New York, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, and Shorefront YM-YWHA.

Through a Request for Proposals, SBS asked community organizations to identify the specific needs of the immigrant entrepreneurial communities they serve, and propose tailored solutions. The five community partners will execute their tailored plans, and also provide free business courses, one-on-one counseling, and community-based outreach in five target languages: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Haitian-Creole, and Russian. Services will be available in late-fall.

“Immigrant entrepreneurs are vital to the City’s identity and economy, opening businesses that create jobs and bring great diversity and energy to our most dynamic communities,” Maria Torres-Springer, said. “Thanks to Citi Community Development, the City will work through the Immigrant Business Initiative with five community organizations to help tailor available assistance, and better assist immigrant entrepreneurs with free services that will help them start, operate, and grow.”

“This initiative underlines Citi's commitment to empowering immigrant entrepreneurs, who are critical contributors to the economic vibrancy of this city and nation,” Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development, said. “Immigrants make up almost half of all small business owners in New York City, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, and across the U.S., immigrant business-owners are more likely to hire additional employees, reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. That’s why immigrant-owned small businesses are more than an important asset-building vehicle for owners, as they also serve as economic engines for their communities.”

“Immigrant businesses are not only a vital engine in our economy – they make our City a more exciting place to live,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “I am proud to support this important initiative, which will help even the playing field for immigrant entrepreneurs by breaking down the barriers of entry to starting and growing a small business.”

“The Department of Consumer Affairs is committed to helping immigrant entrepreneurs in New York City reach the American Dream and open their own business,” added Julie Menin, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. “I’m proud of the work that DCA has done as part of the Administration’s goal to provide access to immigrant communities across the City so they can start and maintain their businesses, including free one-on-one financial counseling, inspections in their language of choice, and more educational outreach on information they need to know as business owners. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with SBS, and with offering many more resources in as many languages as possible in the near future."

The following New York City Councilmembers praised the program: Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Small Business Committee; Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration;  Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Committee on Finance; and, Peter Koo.

As part of the Immigrant Business Initiative, SBS will also partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to provide immigrant entrepreneurs with personal financial education and information on additional immigrant resources in their neighborhood. A community based marketing effort led by SBS will help raise awareness of the free business services available to immigrant communities.

Through previous Citi Community Development support, the most downloaded online business resources on the NYC Business Solutions Business Library are currently available with translations in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Haitian-Creole. Additional resources will be added as part of an Immigrant Small Business Toolkit. Interpretation services are available through the City’s Language Line Services at all NYC Business Solutions Centers.

Free business services are available to help all small businesses in New York City start, operate, and grow, through seven NYC Business Solutions located in all five boroughs. Services include helping connect small businesses with capital, business courses, recruitment, pro-bono legal assistance, help navigating government, and more.

For more information on all free business services as well as services provided through the Immigrant Business Initiative, visit or call 311.

For more information on all of SBS’ services, go to

Additional information may be found at


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