No responses: Bruce Lundeen
Describe how you see the small business climate.
Saralyn Romanishan: For several years, the small businesses in Ward 10 (neighborhoods CARAG, East Harriet Farmstead, Wedge – Lowry Hill East, Whittier, and ECCO encompassing Uptown and Eat Street) have been subject to the vagaries and lack of practical business knowledge of the Mayor, City Council, and CPED (planning and regulations dept). The small businesses are having a difficult time staying in business.
-The rents are astronomical in Ward 10
-Retail space is sitting empty
-New Restaurants and Bars are “hot” in Uptown for about 16 weeks then are lucky if they last a year
-Constant construction makes access difficult for patrons and businesses
-Several business areas in Minneapolis’ Ward 10 are “destination” shopping and entertainment areas. The unique cultural contexts and atmospheres of our business areas within unique neighborhoods that provide the draw are being deleted through national and international chain stores, teardowns, cookie-cutter cheap construction, and high rents.
-The current council member and the city make decisions regarding parking without engaging the businesses
-The current council member and the city make decisions about everything without engaging the businesses (taxation without representation)
-The city does nothing to promote a “stable” economic environment for businesses
David Schorn: It was very vibrant and the small business owners do their best to provide a valuable service to the residents and out of towners. With over 80 bars and restaurants in the Ward and small businesses, they are the life blood of Uptown and Eat Street. After the City Council passed the 15.00 wage increase with no "tip credit" and after city council, lead by Lisa Bender, took away parking only to replace this with no used bike lanes,the climate has become very edgy and intense. Businesses and residence feel like no one in City Hall is listening to them.
Lisa Bender: I have hundreds of small and locally owned businesses in my ward. New businesses are continuing to open up frequently, both serving the growing population in the ward and with places like Uptown, Lynlake and Eat Street serving as destinations. My office has gotten to know many of the business owners as we've helped new business open their doors or partnered on projects like the 29th Street shared street to improve access and attractiveness of our business nodes.
There are great disparities between minority owned and white businesses in Minneapolis. Entrepreneurs and businesses of color face disparate challenges in everything from access to credit to navigating city licenses and regulations. What policies do you think are needed to increase minority and immigrant owned business ownership and success?
Saralyn Romanishan: -Islamic prospective business owners need new programs for assistance as the traditional form of credit is against their religion. The city needs to work with those residents to form a new system to assist them.
-The city system is extremely complicated. We need to use more neighborhood resources and outreach to work with business owners, reach prospective owners, and encourage ownership.
-The city needs to give more time when issues come up to make sure all that communications and expectations are clear.
-We will not be able to have diverse, minority owned businesses or small startups in Ward 10 if we keep losing our affordable housing. The workers for these businesses can no longer afford to live here and the same for prospective owners who are more likely to look for a location closer to home and less expensive.
David Schorn: #1 We need to communicate in multiple languages to help ALL small business owners. #2 Provide grants to first time small business owners #3 Decrease some of the regulations that are outdated and not needed.
Lisa Bender: We have made some progress on this and I am supportive of doing much more. We have continued to reduce red tape where it makes sense and make it easier to open and run a businesses in the city, work I will continue to support and to particularly ensure that our systems are easy to navigate for new business owners and accessible to every language. Our city can itself increase opportunities for businesses of color through our own purchasing and contracting. I supported our Target Market Program which set aside smaller contracts for small and local businesses and our overall supplier diversity efforts. We still have more to do on this. I supported creating and staffing a small businesses office which, in partnership with the equity staff that I helped save from cuts during our first budget this term, should lead to many more targeted programs, resources, and outreach to support businesses of color. This work needs to be centered in talking with entrepreneurs and
Cities can do many things to support locally owned businesses. What ideas do you have to support locally owned businesses in Minneapolis?
Saralyn Romanishan: -I will support the work of the new small business team in Minneapolis for now. It is new and a lot of funding has been thrown at it but we still have no results to go by. We need to followup on the program and speak with local businesses in 6 months and again in 1 year to make sure the program is doing what we need it to do and that it is not simply for “show”.
-Full and easy access for the businesses to vital information
-Real engagement with the results reflecting business interests in addition to residents’
-Clean up and clean out the inspections department. Minneapolis should not be a party to harassment and grudges that result in harassment of local business owners. If someone really does something wrong then that should be addressed but inspectors should not be coming back time and time again. We also need to make sure our inspectors are fully educated in what they are inspecting and the work they are requiring business owners to do.
-Require parking again
-We need to promote and encourage cottage industries
-I would like to work jointly with our local small businesses on the affordable housing issue as this effects their employees
-I would like to work jointly with our local businesses on transportation issues as this effects patronage
-I would like to work jointly with our local businesses on environmental issues, where the city helps subsidize cleanup or other expensive changes that might be required by ordinance or just to increase livability in our area
-I prefer incentive programs for the small business owner instead of penalties when we need to make changes
-Several years ago, the city of Minneapolis promoted a program that rebuilt and added small business nodes to the neighborhoods throughout the city (except North Minneapolis). The city talks a lot about making our business areas pedestrian friendly and pleasant but in reality are pushing bike lanes, no parking, and large construction projects. We need to protect the business nodes we have added and then encourage and promote more nodes in North Minneapolis. I also want more funding put towards municipal parking in our business nodes.
-We need to make sure our small business areas and nodes are safe. Which means well lighted, close parking access, and police beat officers
David Schorn: #1 LISTEN TO THEM . #2 Lower property taxes #3 Decrease the number of restrictions placed on small businesses. #4 Allow tip credits
Lisa Bender: I am very invested in the success of our small business office, ensuring it is operating effectively, that it is centering the desires of our small business community in the work, and that it is adequately staffed into the future. I think we can be much more creative and intentional about the support we provide locally owned businesses. I am supportive of the mayor’s commercial land banking program and other ways to preserve affordability in commercial spaces. I have started to help build relationships between the city, larger businesses and smaller locally-owned businesses to see if there are ways these three groups can work together to mutually support entrepreneurship.
What work have you done in your career to date to support locally owned businesses?
Saralyn Romanishan: I believe local businesses are a vital part of our community. I grew up in the Ward that I am running to represent. I worked in the local small businesses throughout high school and college then held my first career position also in a local small business in Ward 10. I have worked retail my whole life except in my current position with Mass Transit. I have been the small part-time worker, the full-time worker, and management. In addition to working with the public and at times with wholesalers, I have also performed accounting and reporting duties. I get that having a small business is a full-time plus job and that small businesses need all of the help they can get. As a neighborhood activist and Neighborhood Association 501c3 Board Member, Treasurer, and Chairing and sitting on several local committees, I have worked with and supported our local businesses and business associations on local issues. As part of our community, they have also been a willing source of outreach to the residents and community charitable donations. In our community, the neighborhood associations and the businesses share knowledge and resources. I also promote #walktoshop and #shoplocalmpls which are basically promotions to get our local residents to shop locally (even though a lot of business parking has been taken away by the city). With Amazon moving so many warehouses to the Twin Cities and now looking at possibly building a headquarters here, our local businesses need more support than ever. They have same day delivery throughout our Ward and their trucks are in the streets multiple times per day. We are also dealing with a mess of road construction and planning misconnects that will deeply effect our local businesses for the next 5 years. They NEED local patronage and a lot of it.
David Schorn: I have owned a small proprietory landscape and painting business for 35 years.
Lisa Bender: During my first term in office, I have supported many businesses in the ward in opening their doors. My staff used to personally attend inspections and meet many times with business owners to navigate our process. I supported our efforts to streamline these approvals and have started to see some improvement. I was an enthusiastic supporter of our new Small Business Office and will support growth in the future. My ward is a dynamic place that is always changing. We have welcomed new businesses as part of recent growth and change and will continue to work hard to ensure that small and locally owned businesses are the center of the community in ward 10.
Would you support strong proactive outreach to businesses to inform them about earned sick and safe time, minimum wage, and other labor regulations?
Saralyn Romanishan: Yes! In every way and every language possible before and after regulations are passed.
David Schorn: Yes
Lisa Bender: Yes, I have worked very hard, and am so grateful for all of the leadership and work of the Main Street Alliance, to engage businesses of all sizes in decisions we’ve made about workplace regulations. I know many business owners in the ward did not want new regulations and my staff and I met with as many one-on-one as we could to talk through the proposals. Many businesses actually embraced the conversation and have been leading the way, helping policymakers and staff understand how to best protect workers and support businesses. We have learned a lot over the past several years and my hope is that creating a better staff structure with the Small Business Office and new community engagement resources in the coordinator’s office that any process in the future will be informed and improved by feedback from businesses over the past several years.