By Ronnette Riley, VP of Public Policy. Dec 17th, 2015


The NYC government was trying to find out if small businesses are able to get the funds they need to grow their businesses.

At very short notice, I was asked to represent NAWBO NYC at a hearing on December 17th, 2015 by the Assembly Standing Committee On Banks and the Assembly Standing on Small Business. Since I have experienced some serious challenges accessing credit when my business needed it, I rallied so I could attend and provide testimony.

I appeared before Assembly Members Fred W. Thiele, Annette Robinson and Guillermo Linares. Of the five speakers, I was the only business owner. The others represented either the lenders or the organizations that assisted businesses in getting credit:

  • Patrick J. MacKrell President & CEO of New York Business Development Corporation who represented the New York Bankers Association;
  • Edward Jennings Vice President & Head of Commercial Banking at the State Employee Federation Credit Union (SEFCU), Representing the New York Credit Union Association;
  • Ann Solomon, Strategic Initiatives Manager of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU); and
  • J. Handal, Director of the Business Center for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.

I began by introducing my firm which is 28 years in business. I am the sole proprietor with 20 employees. I used my experience with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the increased work as a result of Super Storm Sandy as a case study:

My firm had rapid growth, delayed payments and the inability to access capital quickly.

The project required assessment and construction documents for 56 buildings in the Far Rockaways representing $330M in construction. We began on December 12th, 2012 and in just nine days we had doubled our staff. We received a small payment in April 2013, but no substantial payment until July 2013. Not one bank that my firm banked with would increase our line of credit, even though our revenue was three times that of 2012. I gave a detailed account of what happened.

At the end, I was given the opportunity to propose changes that could be beneficial to women-owned businesses. These were my suggestions:

  • Government agencies are compelled to pay promptly;
  • Banks are held accountable for delays in the approval process;
  • Businesses with government contracts are able to use them as collateral;
  • There is a maximum time for a bank or lender to close after application submittal, not after application approval;
  • Banks cannot tie loans to the amount of money kept in that particular bank.

At the end of the hearing, the Assembly members offered to assist in compelling NYCHA to pay their bills. I was then asked for details about NAWBO and our members’ capital needs and experiences obtaining, or trying to obtain, capital.


POST-HEARING: We are putting together a survey so that we can gather more concrete data from NAWBO NYC members to share with the Assembly members. We will be circulating this survey soon. We look forward to your participation and hearing about your experiences, so we can contribute them in our efforts to bring about some necessary changes.