Gregg Bishop: Caring For Immigrant Business Workers
BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Gregg Bishop, the commissioner for the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), uses his family’s history to motivate him to help provide equal opportunities for all business owners as well as set a platform for future business owners amid the city’s diverse communities to obtain economic self-sufficiency and mobility.
Bishop’s mother was faced with the toughest decision of her life when he was just 6 months old. She knew that she wanted to provide a better life for Bishop, so she left him behind with her mother in Grenada, quit her job as a nurse and took a nanny job in New York City. She held on to that position until she was able to obtain a nursing job.
It wasn’t until Bishop was 7 years old that he was permanently reunited with his mother, who had missed the beginning years of her son’s life, to create a better life for him.
Bishop grew up in a household that encouraged him to be a lawyer, doctor or pastor. However, he had other plans; he had a love for technology, which is what he pursued in his young adulthood.
Bishop served as the senior manager of workforce development at NPower, director of web operations at Oxygen Media and vice president of technology operations at TheStreet.com. He worked at VIBE Magazine prior to joining the SBS.
“When I graduated college, I wanted to give back,” said Bishop. “I wanted to run a tech training program for young people and also to network, which is what connected me to SBS and learning about M/WBEs [Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises]. The problem I was trying to solve was how to create job opportunities. When you look at my story and anyone’s story, creating opportunities for employment is so important and I saw the M/WBE program as a way of doing that. If we’re able to help M/WBEs grow through city contracting, they’re going to hire, and if they are going to hire, they’re going to hire from within. I think understanding for every moment that we have, it’s a moment that we can make an impact on the lives of everyday New Yorkers.”
Within SBS, Bishop was the deputy commissioner of the business development division and the assistant commissioner of the division of economic and financial opportunity at SBS prior to becoming the commissioner.
“A lot of people don’t realize the importance of this position,” said Bishop. “Working with city agencies, working on policies to help small businesses, to help New Yorkers get jobs that would help build the workforce, being visible and having this platform to talk about this city, to talk about the fact that we are focused on quality jobs and getting people the tools they need in sectors that are in demand, sharing my story and making sure we connect underrepresented communities. A lot of the things I bring to this role, I think, have been the driving source for the agency in terms of our strategy and how we serve our city.”
Bishop said that not a day goes by in which he takes his role for granted.
“I do not take being here for granted because when you think about it, our country, Grenada, only has about 90,000 people and is only about 100-square-miles big,” he said. “The fact that this is my beginnings, and when I visit my grandma’s home and see it still standing, I literally can stretch my arms and touch one side of the living room wall and the other side of the living room wall—but when I was growing up, it was the biggest thing ever. Coming from humble beginnings, you realize that there is a reason why all these things happen for you to be where you are. I always take every day as a blessing, and certainly I’m motivated to do the best that I can with the opportunities that I have.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.