BALCONY Praises Passage of Budget Bill
BALCONY Praises Passage of Budget Bill
that includes a $50 Million
Revolving Small Business Loan Fund
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.
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,
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."
(Christine Serrano Glassner, William Grinker,
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.
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Expo: May 6, 2010
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.
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.
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
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.
HEALTH CARE PANEL
The health care panel was moderated by the Director of
BALCONY (www.balconynewyork.com), Lou
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?
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
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
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,
Marcy McHall, the manager of the New
Business Development for
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
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.
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
Slocum praised the bill for addressing some of these pressing issues
but noted that there is much work left to be done.
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
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.
Rex Bowden, from New
York City Drug Card.Com (www.newyorkcitydrugcard.com),
spoke about how his organization helps people get better rates on
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,
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
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA PANEL
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.
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
Cioffi spoke about his company, Progressive Computing
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
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
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.
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.
ACCESS TO CAPITAL PANEL
Marcel 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
20 West 44th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Mark Jaffe, CEO
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