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NYC: Desperately Seeking Small Businesses

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - From a "cronut" bakery on Spring Street to the Little Lebowski Shop on Thompson Street, New York City is home to a diverse range of businesses.

As the country's workforce places greater emphasis on entrepreneurism as a career option, especially as big corporations look to remain lean and mean coming out of the recession, New York City and its surrounding boroughs -- home to more than 200,000 small businesses -- is the poster child to small business ownership.

New York wants to maintain its competitive edge, particularly as cities across the country are upping their game as viable places to launch a business. The city is trying to get the word out about its growing Department of Small Business Services.

"Strengthening businesses of all sizes, at all stages, and across all sectors, has helped diversify the city's economy and create more jobs," said Robert Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

Arbuz Cafe, located in Sheepshead Bay, reopened its doors after Hurricane Sandy by working with NYC's Department of Small Business Services to receive a loan and matching grant of $35,000 and an additional $5,000 grant for recovery.

Last year, New York City's Small Business Services helped roughly 10,000 small-business owners grow their businesses, including launches of more than 250 businesses and connecting owners to more than $63 million in financing.

"You can't discount the brand that New York City has," Gregg Bishop, deputy commissioner of business development at the Department of Small Business Services, said in an interview last week with TheStreet.

"The cons are, of course, New York City is expensive. If you're running a storefront in another city your costs to start up might be lower than New York City, but the fact that New York is such a global city, you have a lot of guaranteed foot traffic. So our services are meant to help ease the burden" to launch and expand, Bishop says.

Established in 2002 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the department aims to give small businesses "easy access to free, quick, and reliable information on a range of critical business issues," according to its Web site.

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Two years later, the department created NYC Business Solutions, the main vehicle through which NYC SBS offers new and established business owners a range of services and resources. These include financing connections, a hiring clearinghouse, business courses and information about incentives, such as saving on energy costs, among other things - most of it free for small-business owners.