Gregg Bishop—NYC commissioner of Small Business Services
NJERI MCPHERSON | 10/10/2019, 12:36 p.m.
As commissioner of Small Business Services, Gregg Bishop has been working to provide New York City entrepreneurs and business owners with assistance and opportunities. With a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication, a B.S. in Business Administration, experience studying International Management and Marketing in Tokyo, Japan, as well as 12 years working with SBS, Commissioner Bishop is more than qualified for the job.
As experienced as he may be, Bishop came from humble beginnings. Moving from the small island of Grenada to Flatbush Brooklyn when only 7 years old, Bishop credits his mother for going the extra mile for him to get a good education, and instilling a good work ethic in him from a young age.
“My mom first came here. She was a nurse in Grenada, and because of some political activity, she lost her job—she had no choice but to come to the United States for better opportunities,” says Bishop. “She tried to provide, and did provide, for me. She worked two jobs, sent me to a really good private school, and that is how I got into Brooklyn Tech.”
One political event that really had an impact on Bishop was the appointment of the first Black mayor of New York City. Bishop recalls that being able to hang a picture of Dinkins on his walls was one of the few times he saw someone of color in such a high position of power. But, as a kid, Bishop did not have any direct interest in politics or business. Rather, he had an affinity toward technology.
“I never really saw myself in politics,” says Bishop, “My interest was always in technology.
“When I was first approached by SBS, I said no.”
After teaching himself to code at a young age, Bishop pursued a job in helping others gain skills in technology. He focused on those coming out of the criminal justice system, teaching them tech skills and then helping them find jobs. It was in this endeavor that Bishop reevaluated the idea of working in politics.
“Teaching them tech skills was the easy part, getting them jobs was the hard part,” explains Bishop, “the conversation of how to get young people jobs turned into how to help small businesses. Once you are in government, you realize you have the ability to make policies to make an immediate impact.”
Bishop’s experience in school helped him greatly on his road to becoming commissioner. One of the main lessons he hopes to bring into this role is “learning how to build a strong team, a diverse team that brings diversity of thought. You need people with the same goal, but with different ways to get there,” explains Bishop. “Technology has taught me how to think outside the box; I am always open to innovation.”
After 12 years working with SBS, Bishop hopes to reach people that are in need of service most. Though African Americans make up over 20% of New Yorkers, they only make up 2% of New York City businesses. It is for this reason that Bishop has initiated BE NYC, Black Entrepreneurs in New York City, a program that provides specialized help to Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs.
“We are in the process of gathering information from Black entrepreneurs, to help us design programs to help them grow. By December we will have a roadmap of how to help Black entrepreneurs. We want to make sure that when we make programs as government, they are programs that are needed.”
Though the commissioner puts a high priority on supporting entrepreneurs of color, he hopes to reach all people in communities that have perhaps been left out of the conversation. “We have to be in different communities, we have to be able to give our services in different languages,” says the commissioner.
The SBS and Bishop have worked to put in place programs that are accessible to everyone. Not only do they offer specialized help to Black-owned businesses through BE NYC, but there is also WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs of New York City), to give support to female entrepreneurs. Moreover, as a way to keep up with technological advancement and the busy days of modern entrepreneurs, SBS has launched their first online business courses. These resources are only a small amount of initiatives online that SBS has launched to help business owners all over New York City.
“Small businesses are what make New York great. People come to New York because they can’t get certain things anywhere else,” says the commissioner. “That is because we support our small businesses.”