BALCONY Praises Passage of Budget Bill


BALCONY Praises Passage of Budget Bill
that includes a $50 Million
Revolving Small Business Loan Fund

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, praised the New York State Legislature and Governor David Paterson for their June 21st passage of an economic development budget bill that includes a $50 million revolving small business loan fund.  The loan fund, which Governor David Paterson included in his latest budget extender, is supported by BALCONY which lobbied for its inclusion in the 2010-11 New York State Budget. 

"Providing small businesses with access to capital in New York State is critical to overcoming the harsh economic environment that business owners are currently operating in.  This $50 million fund is a tremendous step in the right direction.  Not only will the fund encourage growth in the small business sector, but it will also create badly needed jobs for New Yorkers," stated Bruce Ventimiglia, Co-Chair of BALCONY and Chairman and President of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC. 

The $50 million revolving loan fund will provide loans to over 1,000 small businesses that are unable to obtain credit despite having a sound business plan or solid track record.  The fund will create jobs in the short term and allow lenders to leverage additional federal funds for small business owners in the future. 

Mark Jaffe, President of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which has co-sponsored several BALCONY small business forums, expressed his support for the $50 million revolving loan fund saying it will, "provide a critical stimulus to New York State's economy."

Tech Panel

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

In November 2009,  William Grinker, Chairman of the Governor's Small Business Task Force addressed the BALCONY / Greater New York Chamber of Commerce White Plains Forum. Mr Grinker reported that a key recommendation of the task force would be the creation of the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund.


We Moved



New York, NY 10001
(212) 219-7777

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director:

Nicholas Kapustinsky, BALCONY Research and Communications: nicholas@balconynewyork.com

Diane Masters, Development Administrator: diane.masters@balconynewyork.com

Kevin R. Weaver, Website and Computer Services: kevinweaver@bellsouth.net


Expo:  May 6, 2010



NY Chamber

May 6th


New York City - On Thursday, May 6, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, along with co-sponsor BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, hosted the Greater New York City Business Fair at Madison Square Garden.  The business expo and panel forum was attended by over 500 businesses and included forum panels on health care, social media, and access to capital.


JaffeThe event kicked off at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast and opening ceremonies in the spacious and elegant dining room adjacent to the Play by Play sports bar on the second level of the Garden. 

Mark Jaffe, President of GNYCC, welcomed an audience of around 250 people to the expo, and expressed his excitement about the gathering and the networking opportunities the event would provide.

"I am proud of the Chamber and I am proud of our members," said Jaffe, "I know that working together we can make New York State a better place to live and do business"

Jaffe then introduced Seth Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Organization (www.nycedo.com), who gave a speech on the challenges and opportunities facing businesses in New York City in 2010 and beyond. 

PinskyPinsky noted that, while there has been a lot of talk about the contributions of big business to NYC's economy, companies with fewer than 10 employees still constitute 80% of all businesses in New York, and that companies with fewer than 100 employees account for 98% of all business in New York and 50% of all employment. 

Pinsky contended that, while these are challenging financial times especially for smaller businesses, New Yorkers are beginning to see the first green shoots of recovery.   In fact, Pinsky pointed out that New York City outperformed the rest of the country during this trying year. 

Pinsky spoke about how NYC has historically underinvested in infrastructure, but is now investing billions in that critical area to keep the city competitive in the 21st century. 

Pinsky laid out the New York Economic Development Organization's three-pronged approach to updating New York City's infrastructure.

First, the Economic Development Organization is investing in legacy industries to bring them into the 21st century. This includes a $180 million investment in Hunts Point in the Bronx, which contains the largest food distribution center in the western hemisphere, where they are investing in wind power, alternative fueling stations, and renovations.  

Secondly, the EDO is looking at emerging industries where NYC has a competitive advantage, specifically in the green economy.  To this end they are investing in solar thermal projects and rethinking their approach to, and usage of building stock, which Pinsky referred to as the city's most valuable resource, in an effort to significantly reduce NYC's carbon footprint.

Finally, the EDO is looking to foster entrepreneurship in all industries.  Pinsky noted that the government generally does a lousy job when it comes to picking the next best thing, and that this responsibility should really be put in the hands of NYC's creative workforce, the greatest in the world.


Booth  Booth





GordonThe health care panel was moderated by the Director of BALCONY (www.balconynewyork.com), Lou Gordon

Gordon kicked off the forum by introducing the members of the panel and asking the audience who among them had actually read the notoriously long and complex Health Care Reform Law.  Upon seeing only one or two hands raised Gordon quipped that BALCONY would be supplying 'cliff's notes' in the future. 

Gordon then introduced the central question of the forum:  What is the impact of the new health care reform law on businesses small and large?

GeyerhahnThe first panelist to tackle the question was Ben Geyerhahn, New York regional director of the Small Business Majority (www.smallbusinessmajority.org). Ben spent the last year or so studying the impact of health care reform on small business. 

Geyerhahn explained that if an employer's business has fewer than 25 employees they will be eligible for tax credits this year under the new reform law as long as their average wages do not exceed $50,000.   An important component of that, Geyerhahn noted, was that owners' salaries are not included in that calculation, making it easier for small and medium sized businesses to qualify.  Anyone who qualifies can expect a tax credit of up to 35%. 

98% of large businesses in NYS already provide health coverage to their employees.

Geyerhahn concluded that he believes the new insurance exchanges will greatly reduce the complexity employers face in choosing health care plans.  Additionally, this less complex system will encourage business owners to invest in programs they might not have otherwise, like 401k's.

Marcy McHall, the manager of the New Business Development for McCall
the New Business Sales Team at Emblem Health (www.emblemhealth.com), spoke about her company's work and insurance companies' perspective on the reform law in general.  McHall also chairs Senator Kristin Gillibrand's Health Care Committee and devotes her spare time to advocating for the uninsured. 

Emblem Health provides a number of different insurance products at a variety of levels, from CHIP to so-called Cadillac Plans.  McHall suggested that, under health care reform, customers will still have options in shopping for health insurance, but it is unclear yet what those options will be or how diverse these plans will be. 

What is clear, McHall suggested, is that the new system will be vastly easier to navigate and that the new exchanges will spread the risk amongst many carriers and begin to drive prices down. 

Furthermore, she noted that CHIP will remain available but probably outside of the exchange. All this, however, is in the construction stage and McHall suggested that any speculation over what the new system will look like is just that, speculation. 

One question McHall raised was what percentage of businesses will actually qualify for the health care tax credit, and whether this new policy would not, in effect, create yet another donut hole in America's health care system.

SlocumPeter Slocum, Vice President of the American Cancer Society (American Cancer Society) spoke about the important focus on prevention in the health care reform law, calling it essential and extraordinary. 

Slocum noted that the costs associated with chronic disease, especially diabetes and obesity, are bankrupting America's health care system. 

Slocum praised the bill for addressing some of these pressing issues but noted that there is much work left to be done. 

HeimanBetty Heiman, of Transparent Health Network (www.transparenthealthnetwork.com), spoke about Transparent's unique program to help the uninsured. 

For a monthly fee Transparent Health provides access to its exclusive network of health care providers, labs, radiology, and pharmacy benefits regardless of age, employment status, or medical history. 

Transparent offers an alternative to purchasing health care for the uninsured and underinsured, as well as employers and employees.  Through Transparent Health's network, members receive access to a variety of benefit options at discounted prices. 

BowdenRex Bowden, from New York City Drug Card.Com (www.newyorkcitydrugcard.com), spoke about how his organization helps people get better rates on pharmaceuticals.  

New York City Drug Card.com is a company that helps uninsured and underinsured people, people with high deductible plans or with formulary gaps, to get discounts on their medications at all the major distributers of pharmaceuticals including CVS, Target, Walmart, Duane Reade, etc. 

Bowden says that New York City Drug Card.com essentially negotiates with these distributors on behalf of the patient. 

Bowden explained that the individual merely needs to bring the card with them to the pharmacist, and the pharmacist will scan the card and follow the instructions to provide the patient with any available discounts.

GalonDenise Galon, founder and owner of Divine Wellness, a holistic healing center, spoke about the potential of alternative medicine to contribute to conventional health care. 

She lamented that a lot of people cannot take part in her alternative medical program because their insurance will not cover alternative procedures.  Galon's program deals with patients with chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. 


Booth  Booth



The social media panel was moderated by Joe Rojas of Computer ER (www.computerer.com), a company that offers IT solutions for home and business. 

Rojas introduced the theme of the panel:  how to use social media effectively in promoting a website or business. 

Rojas cautioned the audience that businesses need to be careful about how they use social media to promote themselves, because once something is published to the web it cannot be taken back. 

Rojas contended that businesses should be especially wary of responding to negative commentary or reviews that customers or clients post on sites like Yelp.com, suggesting that business owners take time in crafting a response to avoid creating an online war of words. 

ShaoolianGabriel Shaoolian of Blue Fountain Media (www.bluefountainmedia.com), a personal website and search engine optimization firm, spoke about how to optimize a business' web presence. 

Shaoolian spoke to the audience about different modes of search engine optimization (SEO) and the importance of building and maintaining a web presence that targets and speaks to customers and prospective customers.

CioffiRobert Cioffi spoke about his company, Progressive Computing          (www.pro-comp.com), which designs, installs and maintains Microsoft Windows based computer networks for small and medium sized businesses.

Progressive Computing will examine a company's current network capabilities, security, and performance and draws on its wide range of services and expertise to optimize the network using a custom solution. 

RestucciaMegan Restuccia represented Blue Diamond Solutions (www.bdsmsp.com), a Managed Services Provider specializing in proactive management of desktop and network infrastructure.

BDS provides comprehensive and cutting edge Information Technology solutions that solve the business challenges that impede progress and stifle growth.

LifsonDavid Lifson, CEO and founder of Postling (www.postling.com), spoke about how his new site allows users to manage all their social media from one source, allowing them to connect with their customers quickly and efficiently.  

Lifson spoke about using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites as ways to promote a business or product through events, gatherings, and promotions.

Lifson suggested that businesses consider alternative, creative, ways to use the web for promotion purposes, such as creating a blog or using a Facebook page to offer special deals to followers. 

LevendosChristopher Levendos, Executive Director of Verizon FiOS (www.verizon.com/fios), spoke about how Verizon's unique network is improving the way businesses interact with technology. 

Levendos noted that Verizon understands that infrastructure is vital for New York State and that Verizon is committed to partnering with the state to ensure it has the fastest and safest possible networks. 


  Booth  Booth




FlorestalMarcel Florestal, Attorney and CPA (www.florestallaw.com), moderated the access to capital panel. 

Florestal spoke about the importance of access to capital for businesses of all sizes.  Florestal noted that, at different stages in the life of a business, it has different capital needs and suggested that between the panelists there was a wealth of knowledge relating to each stage. 

VentimigliaBruce Ventimiglia, Co-Chair of BALCONY President and CEO of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC (www.saratogacap.com), spoke about how his company can help businesses invest extra capital and grow.

Ventimiglia spoke about the importance of developing an asset allocation strategy to determine how much money they should invest into different asset classes.  An important part of developing this strategy, according to Ventimiglia, is to first understand how much risk an investor wants to take on, as well as to coordinate the investment strategy with current market trends. 

According to Ventimiglia, Saratoga's commitment to providing its clients with state-of-the-art institutional investment methodology gives small and medium sized businesses access to the strategies and advantages enjoyed by larger investors. 

KornfeldDavid Kornfeld spoke about his organization, Impact Plus, which offers a MasterCard approved Pre-Paid Debit Card to people that need to enhance their credit score or build a credit score from scratch.  Individuals can enhance their credit score by paying their monthly bills (cell phone, home phone, rent, insurance, etc.) using the Impact Plus Debit Card. 

Impact Plus' "TLDAR" reporting technology allows for timely monthly bill pays to build trade lines on a users credit report.  This is a one of a kind service.  The debit card also functions as a bank account for the underbanked and unbankable.  The card is FDIC insured up to $250,000. 

The card also allows for card to card transfers. A user can give a second card to a relative in another country, or someone working or studying out of state, and transfer money to them free of charge.

Martha Soffer, of the U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov), spoke about how small businesses can receive federal assistance in procuring loans. 

Soffer explained that the SBA has made it easier for small businesses to procure loans in the last year by increasing the loan guarantee the SBA offers to 90%. This move, according to Soffer, encourages reluctant lenders to return to the discussion table and lowered banks' exposure, allowing them to lend more freely.

Despite the recession, the SBA saw an increase of 40-50% in loan guarantees last year and had over one million individuals use SBA's counseling resources. 

Raquel Hickey, of H & H Accounting (www.hhacct.com), spoke about how H & H can help businesses manage their accounts.  Hickey noted that far too many business owners spend too much time attempting to do their books in-house.

In addition, in-house accounting can result in discrepancies and disparities that may hurt the company come tax time.

Merle O'Brien of the IRS (www.irs.gov) spoke about how important it is for businesses to understand their tax situation and about how the IRS offers special free programs to educate business owners. 

O'Brien explained that the worst thing that most business owners do is to get into tax trouble before they seek tax assistance or contact the IRS. 
By participating in the IRS' free educational seminars and ordering their free educational videos, O'Brien said that businesses can stay on top of their tax situation and avoid getting into hot water with the IRS. 

Ira Davidson, director of Pace SBDC (www.manhattan.nyssbdc.org), spoke about how SBDC can help businesses in New York State maneuver around the obstacles they face especially in their early stages. 

Since their start in 1986, SBDC has worked directly with 13,587 businesses,helping them go from plans to successful companies. 

Davidson said that SBDC can help their clients understand the importance of a business plan, discover sources of funding, prepare for e-commerce, identify avenues for exporting goods and services, develop marketing plans, and comply with licensing and regulations.


Booth  Booth




The event concluded with closing remarks and a reception at the Club Bar & Grill.  Mark Jaffe thanked all of the attendees and panelists and expressed his hope that attendance at future conferences would be even more robust as the Chamber continues to grow. 

In addition he thanked sponsors 1010 WINS radio, New York City Drug Card.com, and BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York for helping to make the event a success. 






Greater New York Chamber of Commerce

20 West 44th Street, 4th Floor

New York, NY 10036


Mark Jaffe, CEO


(212) 686-7220








The Advance Group 


Belluck and Fox


Broadreach Medical


Concrete Alliance

Concrete Critical, LLC

GSP Network

Northeast Securities, Inc.

Residential Home Funding Corp.

Impact Plus

Transparent Health Network





Click the map on the left to view the