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PR- 382-11
October 27, 2011


New Program, Called Building Blocks for Neighborhood Retail, Will Boost Retail Sector That Contributes Over $50 Billion to New York City's Economy

In Fiscal Year 2011, 99 New Businesses Opened in Commercial Districts Targeted by City to Attract New Retailers

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced a series of new initiatives, called Building Blocks for Neighborhood Retail, to support neighborhood retail corridors and create jobs. The program will support the City’s economic growth by promoting local retail districts and assisting businesses within them. The initiatives are the result of a comprehensive review of retail corridor conditions by a Neighborhood Retail Working Group comprised of the Department of Small Business Services, the Department of City Planning, the Economic Development Corporation, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn made the announcement at an event launching the second annual American Express “Small Business Saturday.” The event took place at men’s clothing store Rothman’s in Union Square, where the Mayor was also joined by American Express CEO Ken Chenault and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our City’s economy and our neighborhood retail corridors are the driving force behind job creation and economic growth,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “Building Blocks for Neighborhood Retail will provide local neighborhood retail districts with the tools they need to jump-start local economic activity, attract new retailers and reach a whole new range of consumers.”

“The diversity of businesses located along our retail corridors is what draws people to shop and eat in New York’s neighborhoods,” said Speaker Quinn. “While we will continue our ongoing efforts to help businesses gain access to credit and eliminate unnecessary and duplicative regulations, today's announcement of Building Blocks for Neighborhood Retail will provide additional support for our city’s Retail corridors. Providing access to market data will help existing store owners better target their customers and can be used to market and lease vacant spaces to business residents need and want. By providing local merchant leaders with additional resources through the Coro program, we will help them improve their retail corridors and better serve local residents.”

“One of New York’s competitive advantages is the breadth and diversity of the City's network of neighborhoods, and the initiatives announced today will help strengthen the small businesses that anchor neighborhoods,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “By working together across agencies we will ensure that neighborhood-based retail remains a core driver of economic growth.”

“NYC is made up of unique and vibrant neighborhoods, and the key to continued growth and development is empowering communities by providing them the tools they need to revitalize their commercial corridors, attract customers, business, and strengthen their neighborhoods and the NYC economy,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of Small Business Services. “I would like to thank my partners on the Neighborhood Retail Working Group for their collaborative efforts on this important initiative.”   

“More than 97 percent of all New York City businesses have fewer than 100 employees, and retail corridors in all five boroughs are crucial in supporting this sector of our economy,” said New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky. “At NYCEDC we are creating a number of new initiatives to better promote these key retail areas, including a centralized website that will provide demographic information and advertise vacancies, and a Neighborhood Pop-Up Store Competition that will generate new retail concepts and activate vacant space. These efforts - along with the tremendous efforts of our partners in government – will play an important role in the growth and success of small businesses across the five boroughs, and ensure that our City’s economic future remains bright.”

“Our retail corridors serve as vital economic engines of our neighborhoods and communities and it is imperative that the City does what it can to support the businesses and the corridors that house them,” said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. “By providing marketing and business attraction assistance to corridors and leadership training to those who manage them, the City will ensure that these corridors continue to reflect the varied socioeconomic backgrounds of communities and serve as a source of economic empowerment for women and minorities.”

The City’s newly-announced series of initiatives will help promote healthy and diverse neighborhood retail corridors by focusing on three key areas – continuing to help small businesses meet their needs, improving corridor conditions to attract private investment, local residents and visitors and promoting retail districts through business attraction – all of which stimulate local economic growth and in turn, lead to job creation.

Support for Small Businesses

Indirect support to small businesses like that provided by the Department of Small Business Services’ Neighborhood Leadership Program is the first of its kind to be offered to support community economic development leaders – including BID directors and local merchant organizers. This competitive five-month training program, which launched in January, is a collaborative effort of the Department of Small Business Services, the Coro New York Leadership Center, and the Association for a Better New York, and provides individuals working to strengthen New York City’s commercial corridors with the tools, experiences and networks they need to develop new ways to lead change in their organizations and communities. Twenty participants representing communities in all five boroughs participated in 2011, covering topics on leadership development as well as commercial revitalization strategies. Based on this initial success, Small Business Services, the Coro New York Leadership Center and ABNY are now launching the second year of the Neighborhood Leadership Program. Applications for participation in the second cohort of Coro Neighborhood Leadership will be available at the end of the month.   

Business Attraction and Marketing

The City will assist retail corridors by marketing themselves and attracting businesses through programs aimed at both the corridors and the businesses they seek to attract. The recently launched Neighborhood Retail Leasing Program provides enhanced training and technical assistance to Avenue NYC recipients to help them attract new businesses to their commercial corridors. The program introduces participants to the components of the site-selection process and provides organizations with tailored demographic and market data profiles of their communities to assist them in their retail attraction efforts.  In fiscal year 2011, 99 new businesses opened in commercial districts that were targeted by the Department of Small Business Services to attract new retailers. The Department of Small Business Services plans to continue the program and will release a Request for Proposals in October 2011 to hire a retail consultant who will be providing direct technical assistance to additional Avenue NYC neighborhoods to improve the retail mix of key commercial corridors. Small Business Services, in partnership with the International Council of Shopping Centers, the trade association for the International Shopping Center Industry, will also release a practitioner’s manual documenting the approach and methods of the Neighborhood Retail Leasing Program.

The Economic Development Corporation will also launch a series of initiatives to help promote diverse local retail districts through more effective marketing of retail opportunities across the City. For example, it will create a website aimed at retailers and brokers that will promote specific retail districts and serve as a clearinghouse for information. The website will target select communities outside of Manhattan and provide demographic information tailored to the unique characteristics of the City’s retail environment and information about available properties. The website will also serve as a central location for information about City programs designed to assist retailers. The Economic Development Corporation plans to release an RFP to select a website developer by the end of October.

As part of the City’s initiative to assist aspiring small businesses that are hoping to open its doors in a local neighborhood retail corridor, the New York City Economic Development Corporation is working with community partners to design and fund a Neighborhood Pop-Up Store Competition that will make vacant retail locations available to retailers on a temporary basis. This program will activate vacant space and demonstrate the commercial viability of neighborhood retail corridors.

From supporting the needs of small businesses to improving neighborhood corridor conditions and promoting retail districts, these initiatives encompass just part the City’s neighborhood retail corridor strategy to create jobs and promote local economic activity. Together, these proposals will help provide unparalleled support to neighborhood corridors and strengthen the retail environment – and in the process, grow the City’s economy. Each year the retail sector contributes over $50 billion and attracts millions of visitors from around the world, serving as a vital component in the City’s economic engine. In 2008, there were approximately 29,826 retail stores and over 300,000 people employed in the retail trade industry alone.


Stu Loeser/Julie Wood   (212) 788-2958

Merideth Weber   (Small Business Services)
(212) 566-3473

Jamie McShane (Speaker Quinn)   (212) 788-7116


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