In February of 2017, the New York City Small Business Services launched a program called Love Your Local (LYL), pledging to help businesses thrive in one of the most competitive markets in the country. With continuously rising rents and real estate, businesses in the Big Apple are seeing their operating costs outpace their ability to turn a profit. The goal of this city program is to help existing neighborhood businesses make changes that will allow them to grow and remain in the city.
When the program first started, phase 1 gave city residents the opportunity to promote their favorite local business by adding them to an interactive map. In phase 2, business owners were given the chance to apply for a grant program that provided them with access to expert analysis of their business needs, one-on-one consultation with industry experts, and up to $90,000 in funding from the city to implement special projects that can improve their bottom lines. Next Street was tapped by the city to provide our advisory services to some of the businesses that make it through the selection process. Since the launch of the LYL, Next Street has advised 39 small business across Manhattan and Queens and connected 11 of them to more than $950,000 in grant funding.
We’ve worked a range of businesses in the past two years, from local work out studios to restaurants like Irina Kurdiani’s South Street Seaport-located ACQUA. As her business was experiencing some common financial struggles, she applied for the LYL program hoping to access much needed support. “This program helped me and my business immensely; not only did I receive the grant, but I also received advice from business professionals,” said Irina. With the grant money, ACQUA was able to renovate and purchase new equipment, allowing Irina to set her business up for its next stage of growth. When we asked Irina about her experience, she said that “Love Your Local is a great program for small, independent businesses.”
Next Street is proud to be a Love Your Local partner, as well as an operator of other business development programs funded by NYC Small Business Services. These programs give us the opportunity to help small business thrive in their neighborhoods. Our work with Irina is an example of why we believe supporting business owners can lead to a more inclusive economy. In interview with Love Your Local, Irina was happy to say that ACQUA was remaining in South Street Seaport and was “committed to retaining and increasing jobs, helping to ensure the continued availability of locally valued goods and services, and preserving retail diversity.”