The COVID-19 pandemic has both created new challenges and exposed pre-existing challenges across our business landscape. It has surfaced vulnerabilities to our communities, to our small businesses, and to our economy, causing citizens to self-isolate, businesses to close, employees to become furloughed or unemployed, and making the simple act of human interaction – core to many small businesses' operational models – altogether dangerous. It is has created among the most complex set of challenges that our city has faced in a lifetime.
Complex challenges demand diverse perspectives, and the public sector cannot and should not go it alone. In the last several weeks, the value of local public-private-nonprofit partnership has helped supply hotel space for essential workers and infected patients; meet demand for protective and other essential medical equipment; deliver food to uniquely vulnerable populations while avoiding additional agricultural spoilage; and generated multi-sector task forces to surface challenges and identify potential solutions, among others. No single group has a monopoly on the right answer or the independent capacity to solve the crisis. More than a decade after we began to put New York City's ingenuity, innovation, and intellectual capital toward creating the world's most powerful inclusive "tech economy", we must leverage what ideas, insights, and resources we can muster – collectively. Independent, small businesses are the backbone of our neighborhoods. They create jobs, provide access to essential products and services, and contribute to our communities' unique character.
Over the next several months, the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Urban Tech Hub at Company, neighborhood nonprofits, and technology partners will crowdsource innovative ideas and solutions to embrace the changes, and mitigate the challenges, we face ahead of us. As we launch this platform, we are asking technologists, entrepreneurs, researchers, advocates, commercial district managers, and the business community to propose their insights, ideas, and solutions to reinvigorate and reimagine storefront businesses that are adversely impacted by this crisis. We are seeking solutions to improve retail, personal care, dining, entertainment, and other local business services that require bold thinking, flexibility, and innovation to better position New York City's vibrant small business community for the 21stcentury economy.
By leveraging this open innovation platform, the public, private, and nonprofit sectors will work hand-in-hand to rapidly crowdsource small business challenges, engage technology partners, and prototype/develop scalable solutions that support small businesses, industry, and commercial districts in need. And while City agency partners may in some cases be best suited to champion and implement certain solutions, the design of this platform is meant to create and encourage project partnerships that do not depend on the public sector for implementation and deployment.
Based on submissions and interest from stakeholders, we currently envision rolling out several other campaigns over the coming months. In order to ensure that we capture a wide array of diverse business challenges and potential solutions that address the crisis at hand, we encourage you to still submit your challenge (and applicable solution), even if it does not fall under the storefront business campaign. To do this, select the affected industry or sector and submit your idea, so that it can be reviewed, added to our Idea Bank, and considered for creating additional campaigns. If your challenge/solution is applicable to a new campaign, we will re-assign it for inclusion in the applicable topic area.