The holidays are always busy for Gregg Bishop, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, which kicks into high gear during the consumer frenzy of December.
Through the rest of the year, however, his agency is focused on providing support, including financing and legal services, to the city’s small businesses. Since Mr. Bishop was appointed in November 2015, he has certified a record number of minority- and women-owned businesses, and expanded the department to better serve immigrant entrepreneurs. He is also an adjunct professor at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs and board president of the Red Hook Initiative, a community nonprofit. Mr. Bishop, 43, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Brooklyn.
PREDAWN SOCIAL I’m an early riser, and Sunday is my catch-up day. So when I get up, typically at 5 or 5:30, I start sending work emails that I didn’t respond to during the week. I also do social media for my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha — I just got initiated into the Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter, based in Harlem, this spring — and for Red Hook Initiative. I’m an info junkie, so I’ll watch TV news while I’m doing that.
HOLY MOTHER I have to be at church by 11, so I’ll start getting ready for that around 10:15. My church, New Life Church of God, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. It started in my mom’s house in East Flatbush, so I grew up in it. My mom, Evette Williams, wasn’t the one who had the idea to start it, but she was part of the team that got it going. Now she’s one of the pastors. The building it’s in used to be an auto-repair shop. I’m very big into fitness, but Sunday is my cheat day, so I might stop at Golden Krust for ackee and saltfish, a Jamaican dish. Or I may just skip breakfast. It depends on how early I leave for church.
SPREAD THE WORD There’s a commercial corridor right near church, so on the way I’ll stop and hand out fliers and knock on doors to let people know about our services. Things like health fairs, connecting people with jobs. A lot of people don’t think to turn to the government for assistance. Any time I’m walking down an avenue, I’m thinking, “What can we do as an agency to help these particular businesses? How can we advocate for them?”
TECHIE IN THE PEWS My background is in technology, and that comes out in church. I flip between being the person who does the sound engineering and the person who does the software displays, so people can see the hymns and Bible verses.
BARBERSHOP After church it’s like clockwork. I go get my hair cut at First Impression Barber and Beauty Salon, which is in what we call the Junction, basically where Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue meet. I actually have lost my hair, it’s thinning, but I refuse to be like those folks who try to hang onto it. So I cut it really low. I’ve been going there almost all my life, since high school, and they’ve seen me grow up. If I want to check the pulse of how we’re doing as a government, the barbershop is my best source. I just sit down and listen to the conversation.
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