Mayor Bloomberg today detailed the wide array of affordable workspaces available to small start-up businesses through New York City’s incubator program while visiting the Entrepreneur Space, a 12,500-square-foot City-sponsored food-manufacturing and business incubator in Long Island City, Queens.
The incubator program was launched in 2009 to promote entrepreneurship and make it easier to start businesses and create jobs. The City has opened nine incubators in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, featuring 125,000 square feet of affordable space, with additional projects in the pipeline. The nine incubators currently host more than 500 start-up businesses and more than 800 jobs, and many businesses have already graduated from these spaces and expanded into market-rate space. Businesses at the incubators have raised more than $39 million in private funding.
Mayor Bloomberg also launched a new dedicated web page on nyc.gov for the businesses of tomorrow to learn about the City-sponsored and privately-operated affordable workspaces throughout the five boroughs. Mayor Bloomberg was joined by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Gale Brewer, New York City Economic Development Corporation Executive Vice President Maria Torres, Queens Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Seth Bornstein, and Pilar DeGuzman of Bonne Fete Baking Inc. and several other entrepreneurs who utilize the incubator.
“When we launched the first business incubator in 2009 to make it easier for entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into local businesses and jobs, we pledged to open more if it was successful,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Today, we have nine incubators that have helped create more than 800 jobs, and businesses have already graduated out of them and moved into their own space. Now, we’re identifying opportunities to expand the program even further. We want New York City to be the most welcoming city in the country for people who want to start a business. The incubator program is a prime example of what government can do to help create that environment and spur job creation.”
The Entrepreneur Space, the City-sponsored incubator in Long Island City, includes four commercial-grade kitchens and is open around-the-clock to meet the demands of tenants. Currently, 120 businesses use the kitchens to produce products ranging from Whoopie Pies and Indian delicacies, to organic dog biscuits, cakes and cookies, and catering services. In addition, the Entrepreneur Space contains a small business incubator offering affordable workstations, job training programs, and mentoring services. The Entrepreneur Space is operated by the Queens Economic Development Corporation and managed by Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen, a consultancy founded by Kathrine Gregory in 1993. Two classrooms are also available for organizations needing to secure space for job training classes or seminars. The Entrepreneur Space provides access to business counseling, technical assistance, and classes through the QEDC. New York City Economic Development Corporation provided a $170,000 grant to support its launch and operations.
In January, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Mark-Viverito and NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky opened another kitchen incubator at La Marqueta in East Harlem. The incubator, operated by Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-profit social enterprise that trains immigrant women working in the culinary industry, provides shared workspace and technical assistance for small, artisanal and ethnic food businesses. Since the launch, the incubator has created 28 jobs and 17 businesses have been accepted into the incubation program. One, Donna Bells Bake Shop, has already graduated and is opening a new retail store in the Meatpacking District. The food manufacturing incubators allow businesses to leave their home kitchen and test their potential to manufacture and sell food products. Food processing businesses in New York City represent a $5 billion industry, and since 2004 the number of workers employed in food manufacturing has increased. There are now approximately 1,000 food processing and manufacturing establishments employing over 14,000 workers in New York City.
“New York City has always been the biggest stage for entrepreneurs with big dreams to start their businesses, and our network of nine incubators in industries ranging from technology to new media to fashion to food service is helping to make sure it stays that way,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world and from all five boroughs should know that New York City is committed to making it as easy as possible to start and expand new businesses.”
“Budding entrepreneurs have always faced an inordinate amount of challenges when starting their new business. The City continues to create and implement the necessary programs to simplify that process; easier access to more affordable workspace will give those new ideas a place to incubate and arm these homegrown companies with the tools and knowledge to go out on their own and succeed,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky.
“I am excited to see the Entrepreneur Space thrive in the same way La Marqueta in East Harlem has,” said Council Speaker Quinn. “These workspaces are groundbreaking initiatives, aiding culinary entrepreneurs to expand their businesses while bolstering the multi-billion dollar food industry in New York City. Moreover, they are true examples of the finest in public-private partnerships, proving what can be achieved when we come together to support small businesses. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, the Queens Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Seth Bornstein, and several of my City Council colleagues for their dedication to these efforts.”
“Many of the ‘green shoots’ that will revitalize our economy are being nurtured in the business incubator here in Long Island City,” said Congress Member Maloney. “Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, employing just over half of our country’s private-sector workforce. It requires an enormous amount of courage and determination to take an idea for a business and make it real, so I salute the entrepreneurs in the city’s business incubators -- you’re truly what America is all about. Mayor Bloomberg deserves the thanks of a grateful city for this extraordinary program – the small businesses taking root here are truly the future of New York.”
“This city-sponsored business incubator, operated by the Queens Economic Development Corporation, has become a quick success,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “It nourishes and nurtures businesses, helping them to grow by providing space, counseling, technical assistance and networking opportunities. This great resource for entrepreneurs is one of nine throughout the city that provides the kind of opportunities and expertise that will yield great dividends and generate the sweet smell of success. I thank Mayor Bloomberg for his support and commitment to provide resources like this one.”
“The Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City is a wonderful place for businesses to get their start,” said Assembly Member Nolan. “As Western Queens continues to develop and grow, this incubator program allows for local businesses to get the support they need to succeed. I am pleased that Mayor Bloomberg, New York City Economic Development Corporation and Queens Economic Development Corporation have worked together to provide this business incubator to our area.”
“The creation and development of small businesses in New York is vital to turning our economy around during these difficult economic times,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “This is exactly the model we need to give burgeoning entrepreneurs the tools necessary to establish themselves. It is fitting that this space is located in Long Island City, which has quickly become the City’s most welcoming hub for new, successful businesses.”
“This invaluable incubator provides an affordable space for entrepreneurs to make their business dreams a reality,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “Many people look to start their own businesses when doors close to other job opportunities. This incubator opens doors and creates jobs. I am proud to support the incubator which provides tools and resources to start small businesses and will continue to work with the city to provide more opportunities for the growing and vibrant small businesses in New York City.”
“In a city as dense as New York, business incubators give inspired entrepreneurs the space they need to grow their skills and their businesses," said Council Member Brewer. "After visiting Farm to Table Co-packers, an upstate food processing facility with a thriving kitchen incubator, I am more encouraged than ever at the potential for incubators like La Marqueta and the Entrepreneur Space, in the five boroughs. There is a great need in our city for manufacturing spaces and the jobs they create; incubators are a wonderful first step toward revitalizing skilled manufacturing in New York City.”
“The Entrepreneur Space reflects the core mission of the QEDC which is to create and retain jobs. By giving emerging entrepreneurs space, counseling and technical assistance we are helping them grow their business, create employment opportunities and revitalize our communities,” said QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein.
“Not only is the space itself important, but the support behind it has been invaluable,” said Pilar DeGuzman of Bonne Fete Baking, Inc.
In addition to the two kitchen incubators in Queens and Harlem, there are seven additional city-sponsored incubators developed so far; a space for tech start-ups at 160 Varick Street operated by NYU-Polytechnic University; a co-working facility for freelancers in Manhattan, the Hive at 55, operated by the Downtown Alliance; the Council of Fashion Designers of America Incubator for designers in Midtown; the Chashama Arts incubator in Brooklyn; General Assembly, a technology and design campus in Flatiron; the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator in Hunts Point; and the recently-announced technology incubator to open in DUMBO.
The city-sponsored incubator program was developed as part of the City’s effort to support entrepreneurship and encourage diverse start-up companies to locate and grow in New York City, providing entrepreneurs with access to affordable and flexible space, subsidized business assistance services, mentoring, fundraising services, and a vibrant entrepreneurial community resulting from the co-location of many of these emerging businesses, and in some case, through the oversight and resources of a university partner. Each incubator has a unique make-up and has recognized the need to assist more than just those starting businesses; for example, the General Assembly incubator sees over 3,000 people from the general public attend classes and events each month and has over 50 investors as members of their community.
Incubators are part of a larger series of New York City initiatives to support entrepreneurship and promote business innovation. Other initiatives include engaging the academic world in a partnership to create a-state-of-the-art Applied Science campus, which is a major opportunity to strengthen New York City’s position as a global innovation leader; creating the $22 million NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, a seed and early stage investment fund with FirstMark Capital to grow New York City-based technology startups; developing the JumpStart and FastTrac training programs to help emerging entrepreneurs start new businesses, grow their businesses, or transition to new sectors; launching the NYC Next Idea global business plan competition and the NYC BigApps Competition; limiting the tax liability for more than 17,000 New York City-based small businesses; creating ways to make it easier for immigrant-owned businesses to start and grow in New York City, which includes a business plan competition for innovative strategies to provide assistance to immigrant entrepreneurs, and new, free NYC Business Solution courses in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Russian, and a business expo to showcase locally-based immigrant food manufacturing businesses and link them to consumers nationwide; and partnering with Goldman Sachs Bank USA to launch The 10,000 Small Businesses NYCEDC Food Manufacturers Fund to make affordable financing available and to enable eligible businesses in the City’s small food manufacturing sector to invest and expand their business operations and create new employment opportunities in the City.