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Brooklyn Jobs: Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs, Mom-n-Pops Create Opportunity

Looking for a Job? Consider a Small Business


Brooklyn is a borough of small businesses.

Nobody knows precisely how many mom and pops dot the urban landscape from Flatlands to Fort Greene. Plenty, it would seem, to anyone driving down Coney Island Avenue or shopping in Williamsburg. And, where there are businesses, there may be ... jobs.

Small firms are important in Brooklyn because they "tend to support underserved demo- graphics, employing higher shares of Hispanics, individuals with lower educational attainment (high school degree or less), and individuals aged 65 or older," according to the Small Business Administration. Given the large number of immigrants and less educated people in Brooklyn, that's key.

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Over 80,000 Self Employed in Brooklyn; More than One in Three Own Businesses

Brooklyn, according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, has about 30,000 small businesses. Many are small, and employ just one two people, though by definition a “small business” can have up to as many as twenty employees.

There are "83,000 self-employed people working in Brooklyn, with more than a third of them (35 percent, or 29,000 people) owning incorporated businesses organizations as well as small private businesses," says the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce's publication,Brooklyn Labor Market Review, in a report on small business and immigrant entrepreneurship.

Find out how to access the NYC Workforce1 system for job placement, even if you're already employed.  

Small Business Landscape in Brooklyn

Of Brooklyn’s registered small business, the latest data nail down nearly 4,000 as being in construction.

And aside from big box stores and Brooklyn’s mega-chain malls, the borough supports 5,000 mom and pop stores in the retail sector.

Shelter is a huge sector with over 1500 small businesses falling under the umbrella of renting, selling and related real estate services.

New York City is a huge media town. About 800 incorporated small businesses specializing in information and communications help make Brooklyn the wired place it is today. An astonishing 450 businesses produce, direct, copy, do audio, edit and provide other services related to video and motion pictures.

Many of Brooklyn’s white-collar professional workers are staying in the borough for their 9-to-5 gigs, too, a fact borne out by the many blue-jeans-wearing, laptop-toting writers, editors and others sitting in coffee shops of certain neighborhoods. Of about 5,000 Brooklyn firms listed in the broad category of "professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management" occupations, are about 700 legal firms, and about 580 small businesses in architectural, engineering and related services.

Keeping track of all this small business activity, of course, are bookkeeping, accounting and tax preparation businesses, of which there are more than five hundred in Brooklyn, and an equal number of small Brooklyn companies that do computer systems design.

Brooklyn has many hospitals. Still, it surprised even the local Chamber of Commerce experts that Brooklyn’s office-based health care sector has grown to such a robust size, with about one thousand independent physician’s offices.

With 2.6 million residents, including several hundred thousand children and too many vulnerable people living in poverty, Brooklyn also supports about two thousand organizations dedicated to the provision of educational, health and social services.

Tourism is growing in Brooklyn, which is peppered with small businesses dedicated to hotel services, food preparation, and restaurant-tourism. About 1270 restaurant and food services operations in Brooklyn are incorporated as small businesses. Thousands more restaurants, operating informally, spice things up for foodies.

For years, Brooklyn has strut its stuff as a leading cultural center and creative hub. This is borne out by the data. Over 1200 organizations, according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce report, are involved in arts, entertainment, and recreation.

Last but not least, ever wonder how many beauty salons there are in Brooklyn? Just about 490. That’s not quite as many as car repair shops, of which there are 620.

The above sketch of Brooklyn's small business sector is just that: a sketch. For each of these officially incorporated businesses there are many more people working in Brooklyn on an unincorporated or freelance basis who haven’t spent the time and money to incorporate in a formal business structure, the LLC or limited liability company. And, data is usually a bit out of date; the statistics used in the Chamber of Commerce report was collected by the American Community Survey from 2005 to 2009.

That said, the general trend lines, showing what kinds of businesses thrive in Brooklyn, are useful information for small business owners, policy makers, entrepreneurs and, of course, job seekers.

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