Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today presented the 2009 New York City Neighborhood Achievement Awards to 12 recipients in all five boroughs. Established in 2002, the awards honor organizations, businesses and individuals that have demonstrated excellence in enhancing New York City neighborhoods by fostering economic opportunity. Helping neighborhoods become more inviting to business and residents is an integral part of the City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to create jobs for New Yorkers today, implement a vision for long-term economic growth, and build affordable, attractive neighborhoods. The Mayor was joined at the event, which took place at Gracie Mansion, by Citi New York State Community Relations Director Eileen Auld and Con Edison Chairman and CEO Kevin Burke, whose organizations sponsored the event.
“One of New York City’s strengths is the significant role local businesses and community members play in keeping our neighborhoods vibrant,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The recipients of the 2009 New York City Neighborhood Achievement Awards reflect the diversity and dedication of New Yorkers. For their commitment to helping make New York City a better place to live, work and visit, they deserve our thanks, and I’m proud to honor and celebrate them.”
“Tonight we recognize twelve outstanding small businesses, community leaders and organizations whose strong commitment to their neighborhoods and entrepreneurial spirit make our City a very special place,” said Commissioner Walsh.
The Development Award was presented to the Bronx Library Center. When the Bronx Library Center opened in January 2006, it doubled the collection of its predecessor, the Fordham Library Center. The New York Public Library’s first green building, the Bronx library features an adult reading and writing center, technology workshops for all ages, career counseling, a children's reading room, an outdoor reading terrace and a performance space. In an effort to reflect the ethnically diverse community around it, the library’s collection has materials in Chinese, French, Russian and Vietnamese. The building also houses a Latino and Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Located in the heart of the Bronx, the library serves as a vital resource to the immigrant community and as a center for literature, culture and art.
The Placemaking Award was presented to the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership created the Home Grown & Locally Owned marketing campaign to showcase Myrtle Avenue’s business community. Featuring the personal stories of entrepreneurs who have invested their time, energy and money in building their small business, the campaign leverages the historic “mom and pop” character of Myrtle Avenue. Launched in January 2007, the campaign has increased local awareness of new business openings on Myrtle Avenue, broadened residents’ familiarity with local business owners, and increased foot traffic on Myrtle Avenue. Pedestrian counts have increased by nearly 30 percent over the last two years. The Home Grown & Locally Owned campaign brands the corridor as the local “Main Street” of choice in downtown Brooklyn.
The Partnership Award was presented to the Heart of Brooklyn (HOB), a partnership of the leading cultural institutions in central Brooklyn, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park and the Prospect Park Zoo. HOB is committed to strengthening the neighborhoods of central Brooklyn and making its world-class collections and historic treasures more visible and accessible. HOB transformed Washington and Vanderbilt Avenues by organizing a new merchants association and spearheading district marketing efforts. Their efforts have proved extremely successful, with over 40 new businesses opening in the area since 2005. Heart of Brooklyn is a unique example of how cultural institutions and communities can work together to catalyze community development and stimulate the local economy.
The Leadership Award was presented to Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor. Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor is a 40-year resident of Long Island City, and has dedicated his life and career to serving his community. Bishop Taylor is the Senior Pastor of the Center of Hope International, a non-denominational church adjacent to the Queensbridge Houses, one of the largest public housing developments in the country. In 2004, convinced that a single church would not be able to handle all the issues facing public housing residents, Bishop Taylor founded the East River Development Alliance, a coalition of local leaders, educators, business owners and residents. Under Bishop Taylor’s leadership, the organization has provided residents in four public housing neighborhoods with the tools and resources necessary for self-sufficiency and economic mobility. Bishop Taylor’s organizations have produced measurable outcomes for some of the most underserved people in Queens.
The Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprise Advocate of the Year Award was presented to ACCION USA. ACCION provides loans and financial literacy for disadvantaged business owners throughout New York City. About 94 percent of ACCION’s customers are minorities, 75 percent are immigrants and 40 percent are women. ACCION targets entrepreneurs who do not qualify for loans from mainstream banks; many borrowers do not even have bank accounts. Since 1991, ACCION has made over 11,000 loans, awarding more than $76 million to low-income individuals. Without ACCION, these entrepreneurs might be forced to abandon their business or turn to loan sharks for funding. ACCION gives them the opportunity to start and grow their business, provide diverse goods and services and contribute to the rich culture of New York City.
The Workforce Innovation Award was presented to Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, an organization that seeks to improve the lives of people through job training, job placement and educational advancement programs. Goodwill has a strong presence throughout all five boroughs. Goodwill manages the Workforce1 Career Center in downtown Brooklyn and the Back to Work Center in Hunts Point in the Bronx. Both centers provide a full array of employment services including career advisement, job search counseling, and skills training. New Yorkers can also access training opportunities so that they can find employment, earn higher wages and become more self-sufficient. Annually, Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey serve over 75,000 people and places over 10,000 in jobs.
The Norman Buchbinder Award for Neighborhood Beautification was presented to IKEA in Brooklyn. During its first year of operation, IKEA Brooklyn has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to its surrounding Red Hook neighborhood by creating a public esplanade along the waterfront. Visitors and residents now enjoy the esplanade, which features a paved bike and walkway, extensive new foliage and landscaping, well-lit seating areas and a publicly accessible pier extending into the Erie Basin. IKEA restored cranes, preserved shipyard artifacts, and constructed maritime mementos to highlight the unique past of the site. To improve transportation options and reduce customer reliance on automobiles, IKEA Brooklyn secured extensions of bus lines from the MTA, partnered with New York Water Taxi for ferry service and provided its own dedicated shuttle buses and bike parking.
Small Business of the Year Awards were presented to five businesses.
Greene Grape Provisions and Greene Grape Wine Store – Greene Grape Provisions and Greene Grape Wine Store opened at a time when there were many vacant storefronts in Fort Greene, bringing products such as fresh meat, fish, bread, cheese and quality wines to the neighborhood for the first time. The two stores employ over 50 people, many of them local residents, and offer livable wages, access to healthcare, paid time off, and training opportunities. By offering the best, freshest ingredients, and developing a knowledgeable staff to teach customers tips on cooking, the Greene Grape stores help encourage healthy eating in the Fort Greene community. The Greene Grape stores have contributed to the overall renaissance of Fort Greene, and have helped inspire other businesses to open in the now-vibrant neighborhood.
Hot Bread Kitchen, Ltd. – Hot Bread Kitchen provides a range of ethnic specialty breads to New Yorkers while enabling immigrant women to break the cycle of poverty. Owner Jessamyn Waldman founded Hot Bread Kitchen in an effort to create more opportunities for immigrant women, who often have limited job prospects due to language barriers and lack of education. At Hot Bread Kitchen, female immigrant employees bake breads using traditional recipes from their home countries. Proceeds from the sale of the breads are then used to train these employees in the skills necessary to succeed in the culinary industry. Hot Bread Kitchen improves the lives of employees, customers, and community members by employing a market-based approach to social justice
Pastosa Ravioli of Staten Island – Vincent D’Antuono built Pastosa Ravioli, the restaurant he owns in the West Brighton area of Staten Island, into an extremely successful business; lines often stretch around the corner during the holiday season. But rather than simply focus on his own business, Mr. D’Antuono has become an advocate for the West Brighton community, consistently finding ways to help other local businesses succeed. Not only was Mr. D’Antuono instrumental in the creation of Staten Island’s first Business Improvement District, he also taken the time to help local business owners find new ways to improve their bottom line. Mr. D’Antuono has worked tirelessly to make his community a better place to live, work and shop.
El Nuevo Delicoso Restaurant – El Nuevo Delicioso provides the South Bronx community with healthy and delicious alternatives to the fast food establishments that dominate the neighborhood. In 1993, Ruperto Morocho, an Ecuadorian immigrant, opened El Nuevo Delicioso on 149th Street and Third Avenue. He opened a second location around the corner in 2005. The two restaurants employ 12 people full time, many of them recent arrivals to the United States. Mr. Morocho has cultivated personal relationships with residents, neighborhood-based organizations and his local church in his efforts to unify and strengthen the South Bronx community.
BoConcept New York – Niki and Shaokao Cheng opened their first BoConcept store in 2003 to offer minimalist, chic furniture to New Yorkers. During the first year, the couple worked around the clock, with no heat in the store because they could not afford it. They have since opened four more BoConcept stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn. When opening a new location, the couple often chooses under-developed neighborhoods. BoConcept stores have proven to be retail anchors, paving the way for other stores to open, improving commerce and increasing economic opportunity all around.
The Bloomberg Administration’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is a comprehensive strategy to bring New York City through the current economic downturn as fast as possible. It focuses on three major areas: creating jobs for New Yorkers today, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy, and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. Taken together, the initiatives that the City has launched to achieve these goals will generate thousands of jobs and put New York City on a path to economic recovery and growth. To learn more about the plan, visit nyc.gov. Recently, the City has announced:
- A record 10,500 job placements through the first half
- A plan to convert unoccupied apartments and stalled
sites into affordable housing.
- Eight initiatives to strengthen the media industry in
New York City.
- The opening of New Mount Hope Community Center in the
- The purchase of the Hunter’s Point South site to
create a new, affordable neighborhood.
- New initiatives to help support Hispanic-owned small
- A public campaign to help more New Yorkers get free
foreclosure prevention services.
- The start of services of the Park Slope 5th Avenue
Business Improvement District.
- A stimulus-funded bond program to spur commercial and
industrial projects citywide.
- The opening of China Construction Bank’s New York
- The opening of the first section of the High Line.
- The opening of West Harlem Piers Park.
- The City will use nearly $32 million to train 10,000
New Yorkers for jobs.
- New space for 20 small businesses in Bushwick,
creating more than 80 industrial jobs.
- The citywide “Fashion’s Night Out” event to support
retailers in all five boroughs.
- The start to construction of the International Gem
Tower, which will house 3,000 jobs.
- Start of review process for Kingsbridge Armory
project creating 1,200 permanent jobs.
- City’s Workforce1 Centers in Harlem and Jamaica
received awards for innovation.
- Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH)
program to encourage grocery stores.
- City-supported loans unavailable from banks to help
small businesses stay in operation.
- Three new Financial Empowerment Centers offering
free, one-on-one financial coaching.
- Stimulus funding to help the City provide summer jobs
for 51,000 young New Yorkers.
- The opening of New Hope Walton Project, housing for
low-income residents in Harlem
- New affordable housing at Gateway Building, a
long-vacant structure in the South Bronx.
- The Harlem Business Assistance Fund to help
businesses relocate to the 125th Street area.
- The expansion of NYC Business Express to help
businesses obtain permits and licenses.
- New international cruise activity, growing New York
City’s 13,000-job cruise industry.
- Steps to help New York City’s bioscience companies
compete for Federal funding.
- The “Nine in ’09” campaign to promote economic
activity in diverse neighborhoods.
- A Center for Economic Opportunity program put 4,000
low-income New Yorkers in jobs.
- Stimulus-funded community development projects that
will strengthen neighborhoods.
- Stimulus-funded Housing Authority projects that will
create jobs for 3,255 New Yorkers.
- The start of construction of 103 units of affordable
housing in Brownsville.
- A plan to protect area character and expand
commercial opportunities in Sunset Park.
- The opening of Home Depot in the South Bronx creating
200 new permanent jobs.
- Legislation that will green buildings and create
19,000 construction jobs.
- The latest round of training funds to help small
businesses train their employees.
- The final tally of 1,673 additional jobs created at
the new Yankee Stadium.
- The placement of 50 laid-off New Yorkers into
positions at entrepreneurial companies.
- New York City achieved a record 5,000 job placements
through the first quarter of 2009.
- Help for a beer distributor to create 55 permanent
and 30 construction jobs in the Bronx.
- Green projects at the Brooklyn Navy Yard are creating
more than 1,700 permanent jobs.
- Comprehensive initiatives to support the nonprofit
sector and its 490,000 jobs.
- Federal stimulus transportation projects that will
create or preserve 32,000 jobs.
- New automated water meter readers that could help
businesses retain or create 550 jobs.
- New programs to provide training and resources for
City’s future entrepreneurs.
- Steps the City is taking to help small businesses
adapt to conditions and avoid layoffs.
- More than 50,000 New Yorkers claimed the City’s Child
Care Tax Credit in its first year.
- 11 new initiatives to support the financial services
sector and promote entrepreneurship.
- A plan to create and retain 400,000 jobs over the next six years.