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Mayor Mike Bloomberg fondly remembers his days as a small business owner and likes to share the joy of successful entrepreneurship with New York City start-ups.
This time, in the Bronx.
The mayor announced today the first city-sponsored business incubator in the borough, which will be part of the city’s growing network of incubators designed to help startups transition into successful companies.
“Embracing New York City’s entrepreneurial spirit — that is a central part of our administration’s strategy for creating jobs and putting more New Yorkers to work,” he told a crowd of reporters in a swanky new office inside the landmark BankNote Building, (which used to be a penny factory!) in Hunts Point.
“It is also, as you know, a personal passion. As a former small business owner, I’ve seen firsthand how a small business startup involving a few guys or women can — with an idea — grow into a major business and employ thousands of people,” he said.
After a particularly awkward ribbon cutting (a group of officials uncomfortably crowded with scissors at the front entrance of the office, while photographers complained about the poor lighting and lack of space), the mayor officially unveiled the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, which is the eighth city incubator and the first in the Bronx.
The incubators are designed to give entrepreneurs cheap space to try out new ideas and help connect them to a business community with a network of support services and resources.
New York City must encourage innovation, Bloomberg said, because, after all, “This is the place where dreamers come and as Ed Koch once said, ‘This is where the future comes to audition.'”
The new 11,000-square-foot space (“a business ecosystem,” as the mayor called it) will support up to 400 entrepreneurs and provides around 180 workspaces which tenants can license on a month-to-month basis.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got in on the fun, saying the possibilities are endless. “Facebook was born in a dorm room. Google was born in a garage. Think of what could be born in a former penny factory. I think the sky is the limit,” the mayoral hopeful said.
The event echoed the Bronx-is-not-burning theme of a Kirsten Gillibrand event in the borough last week.
“The Bronx has an important role to play in the 21st century economy and we look forward to great news coming out of this incubator going forward,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
After the conference, reporters threw some questions at the mayor about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans to expand the racino at the Aqueduct in Queens and the governor’s proposal to rebuild a convention site at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
The mayor said he doesn’t know the details, but is generally supportive, which seems to be his stance on many of the governor’s proposals for city issues (though in at least one recent issue, Bloomberg is directly butting heads with Cuomo).
“As you know, I’ve never been a big fan of gambling, but I’ve always said if it’s going to be in New York, we should share in the revenues….I’m sympathetic to the governor, who’s trying to get new sources of revenue,” he said.
In response to Cuomo’s plan to raze the Javits Center and rebuild, Bloomberg said, “Whether it’s a good plan, you’ll have to take a look at it, the devil’s always in the details. … I think two convention centers may be too much. … These things keep changing.”
Bloomberg added of his Albany colleague, “He’s trying to solve some problems here. He’ll have to work it out. … At least he’s trying new things, I don’t know why everybody criticizes so many of his things.”