Headshot of Elizabeth Lusskin

Celebrating Small Business Week

By: Elizabeth Lusskin – EVP, Small Business and Technology Development

Small Business Week: April 28 - May 4 / Small Business Month: May 2024

Small Business Week and Month are great opportunities to celebrate the small businesses that support our communities and keep our economy strong and innovative. It’s a great time to highlight that small businesses represent 98% of all businesses in New York State and are responsible for more than 40% of private sector employment. Small business owners and operators cut our hair, find new ways to slice molecules, make our cutting-edge devices and bake our donuts. 

It’s also a great time to highlight the many ways that New York State, through Empire State Development (ESD) and its Division of Small Business and Technology Development, support small business at every stage of development, in every sector, in every part of the state. 

ESD’s Division of Small Business and Technology Development is made up of five teams, each of which targets a specific area of business needs. Together, these teams take a holistic approach to serving our constituents. I’d like to introduce you to our divisions, some key programs from each, and highlight some of the great businesses they’ve helped.  On each day of Small Business Week, our blogs and social posts will go deeper on each of the five so that you’ll better understand how we might help you or a business owner you know. And you can always find more information or contact us at ESD's Small Business Hub

Here’s a day-by-day preview: 

Monday: Entrepreneur Development is the team that focuses on supporting entrepreneurs starting or growing their business – mostly in the retail or service sectors – as well as businesses interested in NYS procurement contracts. They provide support through 24 strategically located Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers (EACs) across the state for one-on-one counseling, business plan training, and more. In 2023, our EACs together served over 2,600 entrepreneurs, 87% of whom identified as minority and women-owned businesses or veteran-owned businesses.  

Tuesday: Our NY Ventures team supports rapidly scaling early-stage technology companies, providing equity investments ranging from $50,000 to $3 million directly to startups across the state, with a focus on founders and regions often overlooked by the venture capital industry. NY Ventures also provides funds for emerging and regional venture capital funds and accelerator partners to invest in and support companies growing here.  Through our funds, the team has made more than 200 investments across the state to build consequential companies in climate technology, health care, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, agricultural technology, AI/SAAS and more. More than half of those investments are in companies based outside of New York City; more than 70% of our direct investments are led by minorities or women (or both).   

Wednesday: Our Capital Access team helps small businesses get loans and lines of credit from as little as $500 and up to $2 million for working capital, capital projects, equipment purchases, and to work on government-funded opportunities.  We do much of this work through partnerships with banks, lenders, and community development financial institutions (CDFI) that are invested in the communities they serve.  Last year, our Capital Access programs helped over 720 businesses and generated over $379 million in economic impact. 

Thursday: Our Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (aka NYSTAR) leverages New York State's world-class innovation assets with programs that can help startup companies grow and mature companies innovate.  We have 80+ such assets, many based at universities, leveraging more than $80 million to help innovators and high-tech manufacturers.  These include centers focused on commercialization of applied research, as well as incubators and accelerators launching innovative startups or helping students begin their entrepreneurial journeys. Lastly, through several new federal opportunities, the NYSTAR team is helping to ensure that small companies get to participate in the supply chain around big opportunities in semiconductors, and much more. 

Friday: In addition to our multi-sector work, we have a specific division dedicated to making New York State a world leader in the commercial Life Sciences. The initiative has filled the gaps in New York’s Life Sciences ecosystem and funds projects that elevate the state as a global leader in emerging technologies, funded by more than half a billion dollars in state and private funds as well as incentives.  We offer grants, tax incentives, strategic partnerships and more to create the ecosystem to attract, retain and grow a broad range of life science businesses, including incubators and accelerators, AI-based drug development, academic collaborations to fast-track drug discovery, and cell manufacturing. 

As standalone teams, Entrepreneur Development, NY Ventures, Capital Access, NYSTAR, and Life Science do incredible work for small businesses. Together, they do so much more: a new entrepreneur can develop a business plan at one of our EAC partners and go on to secure financing to make their business a reality through Capital Access financing.  A life science startup can get university or accelerator support through NYSTAR, access labs and business support through Life Sciences and go on to receive equity from our NY Ventures team.   

From barbershops to biotech, we aim to make New York the best place to start, scale and sustain the businesses of today and tomorrow. 

This week, and every week, support a small business near you— and if you’re a small business, reach out and let us support you!