The Bronx, New York is a vibrant hub of immigrant-owned businesses that have achieved remarkable success. From Internet technology to restaurant services, these seven entrepreneurs have earned millions (and, in one case, billions) in their respective industries. In Jackson Heights, businesses have been operating for an average of nine years - the shortest average operating time of all neighborhoods surveyed. This is due to the lack of services from banks, municipal government agencies, and even other nonprofit small business assistance organizations.
Kingsbridge business owners reported having to sublet a space within their stores in order to pay rent. For a healthy mix of new and old businesses to survive, both must sell their products to a diverse consumer base, consisting of long-time residents and newcomers. Unfortunately, immigrant small business owners remain vulnerable to these pressures and have no ways to advocate for the right to own and operate a business independently. Immigrant-owned small businesses are essential for the economic and cultural vitality of New York City. However, traditional renters are currently facing a series of challenges that hinder their chances of survival. Participating small business owners reported that they must keep their businesses open for longer hours without the necessary staff to ease the burden. When Carvajal was assigned the task of creating a business plan at the university, he immediately started thinking about coffee.
He was inspired by the success stories of other immigrant-owned businesses in the Bronx and decided to take a chance on his own venture. His success has since motivated other entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. New policies and investments from city and state governments are needed to bolster minority and immigrant-owned businesses in New York City. Kim, from the New York City Department of Small Business Services, as well as Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, one of the leading advocates for small business support at the federal level, are working hard to ensure that these businesses have access to the resources they need. Over a six-month period, the Cultural Corridor for Immigrants Initiative collected 83 surveys, facilitated 12 focus groups, conducted 15 in-depth one-on-one interviews with neighborhood business owners, and involved a collective of 90 individual immigrant small business owners in the Lower East Side and Chinatown, Jackson Heights and Kingsbridge. These companies are facing a decline in consumers and foot traffic, along with a decrease in new businesses. Immigrant-owned businesses in the Bronx are an integral part of New York City's economy and culture.
With the right support from city and state governments, these businesses can continue to thrive and inspire future generations of entrepreneurs.