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Bronx leads new business growth



New businesses quadruple in the borough since 1991, more than twice the city’s overall rate of growth in startups.

The technology sector in New York may be exploding, but the rise in entrepreneurship isn’t limited to Silicon Alley. The number of new startups—from tech firms and artisanal manufacturers to small businesses of all stripes—has nearly doubled over the last two decades, with the Bronx leading the way in the incorporation of new businesses, according to a new report.

In 1991, 35,218 new businesses filed incorporation papers in New York City, the report by the Center for an Urban Future notes. By 2011, that number had increased to 65,658, an 86% spike in the number of start-ups. The Bronx experienced a 305% increase in new businesses, from 1,159 new incorporations in 1991 to 4,690 in 2011.

“The tech sector, from the mid-1990s to today, is a big part of this,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future and an author of the study. “But I think there’s a much larger story about a small business boom that’s happening in New York City.”

Mr. Bowles and his team analyzed data filed with the New York State Department of State in researching their report. The rate of new businesses increased every year from 1991 to 2007. It dipped slightly between 2007 and 2009 due to the economic collapse and recession. But new business formation increased by 9% from 2009 to 2011.

New business startups declined in every borough between 2007 and 2011 except Brooklyn, where the rate increased 5%. The rise of Brooklyn’s business scene has coincided with a decline in Manhattan’s share of new start-ups: in 1991, Manhattan accounted for 52% of all new businesses, but that share dropped to 35% in 2011. Brooklyn accounts for 30%, Queens for 25%, Bronx for 7%, and Staten Island for 4%.

The cost of starting a new business is no small matter, especially for first time entrepreneurs. The amount can range from $60 to $2,100, depending on the type of entity that’s being incorporated. “Limited liability companies” or LLCs are the most expensive, with an average cost of $2,000.

Still, Mr. Bowles said he expects this momentum to increase going forward.

“This is contagious,” he said. “I think we’re really in an entrepreneurial age.”


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