As part of a decades-long effort to distance New York City from its gloried past, municipal leaders continue to make the metropolis inhospitable for small businesses. Once a bastion for immigrants, entrepreneurs, artists, and anyone with bootstraps, The Big Apple is now the 47th friendliest city in the United States for small businesses, according to a survey by professional services company Thumbtack.
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Survey respondents cited suffocating tax regulations as the major reason why skilled professionals find it easier to settle in celebrated megalopolises like Akron, Jacksonville, and Virginia Beach. San Antonio, the historical hotbed of innovation and diversity, has become the friendliest destination for skilled professionals in the country. Small businesses that once handled the janitorial services, bookselling, sales of pharmaceuticals, and childcare are being priced and taxed out of NYC.
"If you want a clean city, as well as easy access to the arts, medicine, and child supervision, you're better off in places like Texas and Ohio," said a high-ranking official in NYC's Office of Depopulation and Destabilization*. "Sure, lower- and middle-class people once flocked to New York via Ellis Island to make a better life for their families, but we decided enough was enough."
"Let's be honest: The rents ARE too damn high, the subway is too damned crowded, not that I take the subway, and when was the last time you were able to get a decent table at Le Cirque?" he added.
The official, who chose to speak to PCMag under condition of anonymity, said he was thrilled to see that NYC was on par with other small business-unfriendly cities like Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and the worst-ranking city in the country, Syracuse. "Do you know what the price of a one-bedroom apartment is in Syracuse?" the official asked, while ordering a $6 cup of coffee at a mom-and-pop diner. "We hope to be on par with them by 2025."
"We're really proud of how difficult we make it for companies to start businesses in New York," the official said. "But we hope to improve on our ease of hiring and access to networking programs. We're making it far too easy for people to find skilled labor."
The city's depopulation program has been a wild success thus far. Yes, people continue to move to NYC in record numbers, but the program's initial phase, which directly targeted the middle class, has been dramatically effective. "We would like to implement a similar program for Wall Street, but it keeps getting voted down," the official said, while eating a $15 Chicago-style personal pan pizza.
Although the official's bosses have been happy with the results, they're envious that the municipal program has failed to achieve the same damning effect as the larger state-wide program. New York State ranks 32nd out of 50th in terms of small business-friendliness nationwide. Survey respondents gave New York State an "F" when asked to grade the state in terms of how easy it is to start a business. The state also received an "F" in terms of its tax code and licensing requirements, and it received a "D" in overall friendliness, regulations, and hiring regulations.
When asked if he thought it was a coincidence that traditionally liberal states like California, Connecticut, Illinois, and New York received really poor grades in the survey, the official hopped on his Citibike and shook his head.
"Sure, most of the fees and taxes that are scaring away small businesses are going to public programs and infrastructure, but let's be honest, do we really need things like universal pre-K and public housing? Those programs only keep people in the city!"
Although he said he'll be sad to see the continued degradation of the epicenter of art, fashion, fine dining, literature, and music, he said it will all be worth it when he starts to see fewer people standing in line for the Hampton Jitney.
*This is not an actual person or NYC government office. Also, these are not actual quotes. Also, everything in this story except for the stats, the outbound links, and the author's disdain for modern-day NYC is fictional.