East Harlem among areas getting business boost from city

Business districts in each borough are getting a boost from the city.

Small Business Services will announce Thursday the creation of a Neighborhood 360° program in which the agency will team up with business improvement districts, community groups and other organizations to spruce up six retail areas.

Blaise Backer, a SBS deputy commissioner, said the agency wanted to be more hands on and focused in its economic development plans.

“Instead of spreading ourselves throughout the city, we are targeting a few neighborhoods and making sure investments from this agency were there,” he said.

Under the program, $3 million in grant money will be available to community organizations in South Flushing, Inwood, East Harlem and East New York, on Jerome Avenue and in Downtown Staten Island, to fund business improvement initiatives such as beautification projects.

The city created reports for each of the commercial districts that laid out their needs and made recommendations. Here are some of the findings.

South Flushing: The strips along Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue have problems with trash and some merchants experience language barriers. The report pushed for more beautification programs and for efforts to connect business owners with multilingual assistance.

Inwood: The area lacks “retail diversity, entertainment, healthy food and recreation options.” The report suggested making a BID for the neighborhood and leveraging its artistic community to better support the area.

East Harlem: Streets east of Fifth Avenue have a 14% vacancy rate. The report recommended attracting new businesses such as healthy food stores, restaurants and clothing shops.

East New York: The report said the community suffers from perceptions that it is dangerous. It recommended a new marketing campaign that highlights the area’s restaurants, cultural groups, historical landmarks and specialized goods stores.

Jerome Avenue: The report suggested installing temporary lighting, seating and street furniture to give shoppers more pleasant amenities underneath the elevated Bronx train tracks.

Downtown Staten Island: Bay Street has a 21% commercial vacancy rate and is seen as a dull area for nightlife. The report recommended creating cultural and entertainment attractions and festivals.


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