Small Comfort

Mayor Bloomberg has announced a $5.5 million loan program to help small business in NYC as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

“New York City is stepping up efforts to help small businesses struggling after Superstorm Sandy. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new $5.5 million grant program on Saturday. He also noted that banks have pledged another $5 million to what was already a $10 million emergency loan fund. The new grant program is designed to complement the loans.”

Kudos for Mayor Mike. But allow us to be party poopers by explaining that the money being made available is a little more than 4% of what the city and state are trying to hand over to just one business: FreshDirect. This subsidy will actually hurt any number of small businesses that are competing with the online grocer.

So hooray for the grand symbolic gestures that do not distract us from the observation that they do little to diminish the kind of harm that the mayor’s economic development, tax and regulatory policies do to small business on pretty much a daily basis.

In an interesting juxtaposition the agency most responsible for those irresponsible economic development policies will be appearing before the city council on Monday to explain to that body why it needs even more power to continue its reign of error. Reining in the NYC EDC will do more good than a few symbolic crumbs designed to adhere to Machiavelli’s advice: It is better to appear good than it is to be good.


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