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Panel Offers City Business Owners Hope In Ailing Economy

By Anthony Pascale

May 11, 2009

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Dozens of entrepreneurs came to Brooklyn Borough Hall Monday to listen to a panel of experts who shared tips on where to turn for help, including cashing in on the federal stimulus bill.  NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report:

When it comes to cookies, Amy Berg will tell you she bakes some of the best around.

"The one that sells the most is Key Lime buttercream, everyone loves that," said Berg.

Berg started her own company in 1990. She now has seven employees and sells 100 pounds of cookies a week. She recently moved into a new location in Sunset Park with the hopes of expanding and opening up a small cafe. But when the economy went bad, her business started to suffer.

"The orders got smaller, people just weren't buying as much," said Berg.

Amy is not alone. Dozens of small business owners and those looking to start new businesses showed up to Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday night where they heard from several organizations willing to help them succeed in the poor economy.

"I think the message is this, that small businesses are critical to the economy and there are lots of not-for-profits like Accion to the small business administration who are looking to find ways to put capital in the hands of people with good business ideas and solid business opportunities," said Gina Harmon of Accion USA.

Some of that money is available from the federal stimulus bill -- and these entrepreneurs learned how to apply for it.

"You can get a loan of $35,000 up to $2 million. It's something people don't know," said Antonio Rivera, a small business owner.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez organized the meeting and says small businesses are crucial to the city's future.

"The only way we can get this economy growing again is by creating jobs. Small businesses are the drivers of our economy. They are the job creators," said Velazquez.

Berg hopes she can hire some new people when and if she opens her cafe, but for now, that's on hold.