Jaffee, REDC Survey Rockland Small Businesses for Ideas on Easing Costly Regulations

Findings stand to make NY friendlier to small business, encourage growth; Potential and unexpected shortcomings found in NYS Small Business Assistance Programs
October 18, 2011
Pearl River – In a joint effort to lower the cost and complexity of doing businesses in New York and spur economic growth, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) has partnered with the Rockland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) to poll Rockland County small businesses for ideas on how to streamline or eliminate burdensome state rules, regulations, and fees that adversely affect them.

The informal survey revealed a range of actionable ideas for how the Empire State can become more small business-friendly, and also exposed potential and unexpected shortcomings in state small businesses assistance programs that may be hindering these initiative’s effectiveness.

"New York's small businesses face many regulatory challenges to growth and job creation, and now more than ever we need to be aggressive in removing these obstacles," said Assemblywoman Jaffee. "In this tough economic environment, we must do everything in our power to break down barriers to business growth and hiring so that people can get back to work. This survey is an important step in the right direction.”

"When it comes to advancing job creation, our leaders need to fully understand the regulatory challenges small businesses face and how to best address them," said Ron Hicks, President and CEO of REDC. "Through many of its responses, this survey provides a blueprint on how to build a more competitive New York, and I appreciate Assemblywoman Jaffee's willingness to find out directly from our local businesses on what they need to succeed."

The survey’s most often cited, and perhaps most well-known, impediment to Rockland small businesses was the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) payroll tax: a levy of %0.34 on employee income paid by employers. The tax, which affects Rockland along with other suburban counties in the Hudson Valley and Long Island, has been a long-standing grievance among area job creators which Jaffee voted against and has since lobbied to repeal.

Beyond the MTA payroll tax, small business respondents cited a broad range of suggested changes, including better online tools for businesses to ensure their tax compliance, and also the request that New York implement e-filing for certain state licenses and court proceedings. Several suggested creating a “fast track” structure for various permits, while other ideas included changing the state court structure to aid small businesses claimants in order to expedite their cases, as well as possibly establishing mentorship programs for start-up businesses.

In addition to providing insights on specific rule and regulatory changes, the survey also exposed a potential shortfall in state assistance programs targeted towards these firms: The vast majority of Rockland small businesses polled indicated that they were not at all aware of the many state business development programs available to them; yet an overwhelming majority of companies that knew about these services used them.

While not scientific in nature, this polling data nevertheless raises obvious questions about whether state business assistance programs can be better marketed to the small businesses they aim to help, and thereby better achieve their goal of fostering economic growth in our state.

Jaffee first asked REDC to collaborate on this survey after the chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee, Assemblyman William Scarborough, solicited other members for ways to improve and reform New York’s regulatory structure. Jaffee has since forwarded the survey’s findings to Scarborough, and is scheduled to have follow-up discussions with him on how to potentially implement some of the responses in the State Legislature. Jaffee is also continuing her outreach to Rockland Chambers of Commerce to build on these findings.

The poll’s responses come from firms representing a broad cross-section of industries and sectors, ranging from manufacturing to services to health care to construction to hospitality to real estate. 41% of respondents had 5 employees or less; 77% employed 25 people or less; 87% employed 50 or less.