Boosting New York's small businesses

- As much as we love to shop at big national chains, small businesses are still vital to New York City's economy. City officials have launched an effort to drive dollars through the doors of small businesses.

For over 100 years, Di Palo's has occupied the same street corner in Little Italy. But things haven't always been easy for this mom-and-pop shop. Lou Di Palo says the store has faced many challenges in five generations: two world wars, the Great Depression, a changing community, and more.

Many small businesses in New York are struggling to keep their doors open they can't afford rent increases, higher taxes, hidden expenses, and increased competition with the big-box stores.

If it isn't a rent hike, it's construction. Business owners along Second Avenue struggled while the Second Avenue subway was being built. Di Palo said construction can hurt a business tremendously. He said the city spent two years changing water mains on his block and the torn-up street made shopping in the area difficult.

Now this staple in Little Italy is part of the city's Love Your Local campaign, which started in February, aimed at boosting more than 200,000 small businesses across the city.

Deputy Commissioner Rachel Van Tosh said Small Business Services is asking long-standing business owners to apply and ask for help and advice on how to thrive for many years to come. The city is offering expert advice and grants of up to $90,000 to mom-and-pop shops highlighted by their communities. Van Tosh said small businesses employ nearly half the private-sector in the workforce in New York.

Small businesses can apply for the grant at nyc.gov/sbs.

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