CB4 Provides ‘Office Hours’ for Small Business Owners | chelseanow.com

CB4 Provides ‘Office Hours’ for Small Business Owners

Ruth Walker and Phil O’Brien of “W42ST," a magazine focused on Hell’s Kitchen, checked out CB 4's "Office Hours.” Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

Ruth Walker and Phil O’Brien of “W42ST,” a magazine focused on Hell’s Kitchen, checked out CB4’s “Office Hours.” Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Office hours are no longer for students only: Community Board 4 (CB4) is taking the concept of drop-in consultation, partnering with NYC Business Solutions, and providing one-on-one “Office Hours” strategy sessions for small business owners and those looking to start one.

For Melissa Lee Dymock, owner of Dymock Work, the “short version” of why she came to the board’s Office Hours on Tues., Feb. 21 was to learn more about how to get certified as a minority and woman-owned business enterprise. Her firm does project management and owner representation for construction projects, and the certification would be advantageous when vying for projects with public funding, she said.

After her consultation, the longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident said, “It was really great.” Dymock said she was advised to go to a small business training class that will go through the application line by line — exactly the type of assistance the office hours are looking to provide.

“We started this idea because we wanted small business owners to feel that the community board was a resource for them,” Jesse Bodine, the board’s district manager, said in a phone interview.

Last June, the board had an informal small business roundtable with the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to hear small business owners’ concerns, he said. “Besides coming to the board for their liquor licenses, there wasn’t an understanding in what a community board could do in assisting them in their issues,” Bodine explained.

CB4 and SBS decided to partner up for the office hours. A representative from the SBS’s NYC Business Solutions would do the consultations.

SBS operates NYC Business Solution Centers across the five boroughs to provide tools and resources that are close to home, Nick Benson, a department spokesperson, said in an email. The centers offer an array of services that include business courses, financing assistance, recruitment services, pro-bono legal advising and more, he said.

Bodine said that the office hours are both for those looking to start a business or to update and expand a current one, and can also help with navigating the city’s licensing requirements as well as the city’s bureaucracy and agencies.

Benson said the partnership with the board on its office hours is a great way to proactively reach area small business owners and to connect them to services that can help them succeed.

Five small business owners (and a person looking for help starting one) came to the Feb. 21 Office Hours, the third such event scheduled by CB4. Bodine told Chelsea Now after that the “turnout was great — it was very good.” The first session was in December and was too new, and the one in January was slow due to inclement weather, he said.

Ruth Walker and Phil O’Brien of W42ST (w42st.com), a magazine that focuses on Hell’s Kitchen, came to the office hours to check it out. “I have no idea what to expect to be honest, but thought it was worth coming out and having a chat,” Walker, the magazine’s editor, told Chelsea Now before the session.

Afterwards, Walker said it wasn’t for them, with O’Brien, the magazine’s publisher, saying they were looking for ways to grow their advertising.

Bodine said he would like to see the office hours continue, and become akin to housing clinics. “Doing it on a routine basis makes a big difference and we can build momentum on that,” he said.

It is important that if people have ideas they should feel there is a way to access their goals, he said. “It’s not easy to start a small business, but it’s not impossible,” Bodine said.

The Office Hours were important, Bodine noted, as there is a need for as much small business diversity as possible. Benson said small businesses are part of what makes the city’s neighborhoods vibrant. Small businesses face intense competitive pressure, and shopping at small, neighborhood businesses is a great way to support and invest in your own community, he said.

The next Office Hours will be a workshop-style event held on Thurs., March 16, 3–5pm, and will focus on what you need to know about signing or renewing a commercial lease. Co-sponsored by the Hell’s Kitchen / Hudson Yards Alliance, Volunteers of Legal Service, CB4, and Councilmember Corey Johnson, it takes place at 412 W. 42nd St., third floor. To RSVP, visit lowermanhattanleaseworkshop.eventbrite.com
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  1. […] ‘OFFICE HOURS’ | District Manager Jesse Bodine said CB4’s “Office Hours” — providing one-on-one consultations for small business owners and those looking to start one — […]