New help offered to Chinese businesses

Updated: 2014-10-21 11:37

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Help is on the way for Chinese immigrants looking for a boost with their small businesses.

New York City's Department of Small Business Services (SBS) announced that it will be working with the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation and the Shorefront YM-YWHA, two local organizations that work with Chinese immigrants, to provide Chinese-language services to entrepreneurs looking for help.

The organizations will be working alongside the SBS as part of the Immigrant Business Initiative, a partnership with the philanthropic arm of Citibank that was announced in May.

"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," said Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of the SBS, in an earlier statement. "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."

Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, a Queens-based organization, helps thousands of Chinese small business owners across the city every year, according to chairman Chris Kui.

Founded in 1974, the organization provides consulting and technical assistance for immigrants who need expertise on how to start and maintain their small businesses. Renaissance offers services in Chinese and Korean.

"The Chinese community is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the city and they're also entrepreneurial. They're driving a lot of revitalization in neighborhoods," Kui told China Daily.

"There are a lot of Chinese small businesses that create job opportunities not only for immigrants, but for other people in the city as well," he said. "It really drives the economic development in the city. If you look at Flushing, it's one of the economic centers of the city, besides Wall Street, besides Midtown, besides downtown Brooklyn."

The primary concerns that Chinese small business owners face are language and cultural barriers, not knowing how the city operates with its regulations, Kui said.

"If they start their own businesses, they complain about fines and violations, but a lot of times they don't even know what the fines are for," he said. "We explain to them what the requirements are, how you appeal."

Another major concern for Chinese business owners is access to capital when they don't have extensive credit history or cannot get loans through traditional means.

Renaissance also acts as a micro-lender and gets funded by the US Small Business Association. Renaissance can give out loans to immigrant entrepreneurs just like a bank might, the only difference being that it cannot take money deposits from the owners it works with.

"The Chinese community makes up a large portion of the population in New York City and it's important for all immigrants, but particularly for Chinese-owned businesses, to know that the government is here to help them," said Gregg Bishop, deputy commissioner for business development at the SBS.

"A lot of immigrants have negative experiences with the government, so we offer services to help business expand and operate," he said.

(China Daily USA 10/21/2014 page2)