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NYC Small Business Services
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Five-Month Program Provides Community Leaders With Tools, Experiences, and Networks To Help Revitalize NYC Neighborhoods

 New York – Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today welcomed 20 new participants to the Neighborhood Leadership Program during the program’s opening ceremony. The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) partnered with the Coro New York Leadership Center to launch the second year of Neighborhood Leadership, a five-month, award winning leadership training program that 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.

“Investing in New York’s neighborhoods and neighborhood leaders is a central element of Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development strategy,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “The City’s network of diverse and thriving neighborhoods are the heart of New York City, and we’ve seen the ability of talented community leaders in all five boroughs to energize commercial corridors and attract private investment and create jobs.”

“The diversity of businesses located along our commercial corridors is what draws people to shop and eat in New York’s neighborhoods,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “By providing local merchant leaders with additional resources through the Coro Neighborhood Leadership Program, we will continue to help business owners attract new customers while improving their communities and better serving residents. I applaud Deputy Mayor Steel and Commissioner Walsh for their continued efforts to help improve the city’s neighborhoods.”

“We have an outstanding class of community leaders representing neighborhoods in all five boroughs that are joining us for the second year of the Neighborhood Leadership Program,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “The tools, experiences, and networks that participants will gain during the next five months will make them even stronger leaders, leading stronger change in neighborhoods across New York City.” 

“Business Improvement Districts and local development corporations are critical resources in so many of New York’s neighborhoods but the leaders of these organizations face complex challenges in their efforts to support small business development,” said Scott Millstein, Executive Director of Coro New York Leadership Center. “This is why we are so pleased to have developed this partnership with Commissioner Walsh and the Department of Small Business Services to provide the tools, experiences, and networks they need to develop new ways to lead change in their communities.”

Over the course of five months, participants work with experts in the field and other participants to develop their personal leadership skills and hone their commercial revitalization expertise. The program incorporates the leadership development curriculum created by Coro, New York City’s premier leadership training program. Other program supporters include the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), Citi, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, The Surdna Foundation, and TD Bank. The Neighborhood Leadership Program is a recipient of the International Downtown Association (IDA) 2011 Downtown Merit Award, for its excellence in downtown leadership and management.

Past participants reported directly using their new skills to improve their neighborhoods and organizations. One participant received a promotion to continue helping to unearth the potential of struggling South Bronx commercial districts, and another participant doubled the size of her staff and pioneered various programs for her district, including a new marketing campaign, a new visual merchandising program which helps merchants improve the design of their storefronts and merchandise inside the stores, and a marquee cultural tourism event aimed at promoting the fashion retailers and downtown Jamaica as an urban fashion center.

“SBS has been consistently innovative in their development of new programs to effect positive change in the neighborhoods of New York City,” said Laurel Brown, Executive Director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District and Coro Neighborhood Leadership program participant. “I’ve taken everything that I have learned in the Neighborhood Leadership program - from retail development strategies to the skills needed to be an effective change agent - and directly applied them to how I manage my district.”

The participants of the second Coro Neighborhood Leadership Program are:

Daniel Bernstein, Fordham Road Business Improvement District
Daniel Bernstein, is the Deputy Executive Director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District, and assisted in its start-up in 2005. Daniel manages daily operations, including budget, financial procedures, grant requests, policies, general administration and park and public development/capital improvement projects. He supervises all staff and acts as the primary liaison with city contractors and service personnel. Throughout his term, he has assisted in designing and creating a variety of marketing events and advertisements. Participating in Neighborhood Leadership will provide him with the proper tools and experience to implement and communicate the many great upgrades and changes that will be coming to the BID and it will also help him build a network of support going forward.

Loretta Cauldwell, Forest Avenue BID
Loretta Cauldwell is the Executive Director of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District, the first BID on Staten Island. Long concerned with the quality of life and economic health of the community she lives in, she considers it a privilege to be able to work for its economic development over the past decade. Her current initiative is to create a solid, recognizable, visual identity for the BID, through a multifaceted
campaign to raise the public’s appreciation for the mutual benefits of a vibrant partnership between businesses and residents.

Wellington Chen, Chinatown Partnership
Wellington Z. Chen is the Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership. The Partnership is currently working with NYC Department of Transportation to design a wayfinding pilot project which is expected to have the first trial test prototype installed in the ground within 12 months. As the Executive Director and with Coro’s help, he aims to create transformative projects while creating an infrastructure that can sustain and thrive to deliver meaningful results for the Partnership.

James Ellis, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
James D. Ellis is Project Manager of the Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Project (NEP) at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. NEP aims to bolster capacity and offer technical assistance to burgeoning merchants associations throughout the borough of Brooklyn. He currently has projects in Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, South Williamsburg, and the Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn. During Coro’s Neighborhood Leadership program James will focus on the Kingston Avenue commercial corridor in North Crown Heights. Local merchants in this area have been working together to increase economic vitality and to beautify the district for the past two years.

Andrew Flamm, Renaissance Economic Development Corp
Andrew Flamm is the Associate Director of Operations for Renaissance Economic Development Corporation where he is responsible for growing its small-business lending portfolio and expanding lending capacity and technical assistance programming for minority and women-owned small businesses in New York City. With Coro’s help, Andrew wants to transform the poorly maintained sidewalk market in Forsyth Plaza into a more actively used and attractive pedestrian plaza that houses a market filled with diverse and affordable produce, prepared foods and crafts, comfortable seating and other amenities.

Daryl Garrett, Hope Community, Inc.
Daryl D. Garrett, Jr. serves as the Development Manager at Hope Community, Inc. – the leading community development corporation in East Harlem. Through the Neighborhood Leadership program, Daryl plans to make East Harlem an in-demand tourist destination by continuing the ongoing placemaking efforts. He also wants to discover new strategies to ensure the projects’ long-term sustainability, while proving that community collaboration is the most viable way to revitalize East Harlem.

Artineh Havan, Grand Street Business Improvement District
Artineh Havan is the Executive Director of the Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID) and has over 10 years of combined community and economic development experience in the nonprofit, philanthropy and government sectors. In the next two years Artineh wants to increase the visibility of the BID and work towards making it an important and premiere community and economic development organization by strengthening the partnerships with nearby community organizations. This will help the BID play a vital role in the community of East Williamsburg.

Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, No Longer Empty
Naomi Hersson-Ringskog is the Executive Director of No Longer Empty, a not for profit organization that draws together public art and community building by transforming empty storefronts into public art exhibitions. Naomi hopes to learn leadership strategies to create partnerships with local organizations and corporations to activate corridors and make a local economic impact using arts. Working with the short time frame of real estate, these partnerships have to be formed quickly, effectively and serve a long lasting goal. The objective of Naomi’s Neighborhood Change Project is to transform a vacant mansion, the Andrew Freedman Home, into a temporary cultural hub and highlight the existing cultural assets of the Bronx.

Melissa Hodge-Miller, Jamaica Center BID
Melissa Hodge-Miller is the District Services Manager at the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District, where she manages small business services, special events, and sanitation. Her primary focus is to recreate the perception of Jamaica Center and help the businesses in the district thrive through various initiatives, including a Visual Merchandising Program and the district’s first-ever interactive fashion show. Melissa wants to show people that Jamaica Center is authentic and energetic. Through Coro’s Neighborhood Leadership program, Melissa hopes to learn strategies and skills that will help her be a more assertive and effective advocate for her district.

Doug Jones, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
Doug Jones joined the Bed-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District as the Executive Director in June 2011. He wants to work with property owners and economic development stakeholders to diversify Bed-Stuy’s retail landscape and believes that his participation with Coro will provide access to partners, change agents, and additional stakeholders that will help create long-lasting, sustained economic growth.

William Kelley, Village Alliance
William Kelley, an urban planning professional with 15 years of experience in both the public and private development sectors, leads a brand new team at the Village Alliance. The Coro Neighborhood Leadership program will be invaluable in helping the organization achieve three immediate goals: build community and partnerships beyond the core retail constituency, establish a comprehensive communications and marketing plan, and develop a retail attraction strategy that will tackle high retail vacancy and turnover rates on 8th Street, Greenwich Village’s former commercial core. Coro will be instrumental in establishing the professional connections necessary to achieve a vision for a re-energized and successful retail corridor that can compete with neighboring districts.

Michael Lambert, Mosholu Preservation Corporation
Michael Lambert serves as the Deputy Director of the Mosholu Preservation Corporation (MPC), an affiliate of Montefiore Medical Center that has provided community support and economic development to the Northwest Bronx for more than 30 years. MPC’s economic development work includes the oversight of the Jerome Gun Hill Business Improvement District (JGH-BID), where Michael serves as Executive Director. As a Coro Neighborhood Leadership participant, Michael hopes to enhance his skills and knowledge allowing him to make greater progress with the various neighborhoods served by MPC and the JGH-BID.

Garrett Lucien, South Bronx Overall Economic Development
Garrett J. Lucien is the Senior Director of Economic Development and Financial Services for South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO). He is responsible for the overall direction and coordination of all budgetary and operational activities in the Economic Development Department and Financial Services. Garrett is in charge of developing an organizational structure that is capable of meeting all client and funder demands in an efficient manner and achieving established growth and profit objectives. Other duties include overseeing SoBRO’s Community Development Financial Institution CREDIT, Inc. Garrett’s Neighborhood Change Project is centered on helping to develop the South Bronx where he wants to stimulate economic growth in the several “corridor” communities.

Kenneth Mbonu, Bridge Street Development Corporation
Kenneth Mbonu is Director of Economic Development at Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is responsible for attracting and retaining sustainable, diverse businesses in central Brooklyn and is currently coordinating commercial revitalization programs on two commercial corridors in Bedford-Stuyvesant. His goal is to fill the vacant commercial spaces with diverse sustainable business interests, to make the corridors physical appearance attractive and safe resulting in an increase in foot traffic. Participation in the program will deepen his leadership practice and provide innovative tools and strategies specific to the complex task of bringing about collaborative change.

Dan Miner, LIC Partnership
Dan Miner provides constituent services to western Queens businesses as Senior Vice President of the Long Island City Partnership. He organizes business networking and educational events, and recruits new retail tenants to the recently enhanced commercial center of Long Island City’s Business Improvement District. It is his vision to build upon the retail services that are already in Long Island City (LIC) , and particularly those that have been attracted to the neighborhood recently, to expedite the ongoing transformation of the retail community.

Daniel Murphy, Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District
Daniel Murphy has been Director of the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District since January 2011. He looks forward to learning capacity building and skill-set expansion techniques during Coro’s Neighborhood Leadership program in order to optimize the successful completion of projects that he has started on Pitkin Avenue. Such projects include the design and construction of a New York City public plaza project, a retail attraction program, the creation of a farmers’ market, façade and mural projects and streetscape improvements.

Meredith Phillips-Almeida, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
Meredith Phillips Almeida joined the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership specifically to grow the organization’s community initiatives. During her tenure, she helped expand healthy food options for low-income residents. Other innovative projects included establishing a community-run farm stand and gardens on public housing grounds, as well as a community food council. She is also integrating local youth and schools as project partners and stewards of neighborhood spaces, and spearheads a larger effort to establish Myrtle Avenue as an access point to cultural activities for community members of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. As a participant in the Neighborhood Leadership program, she looks forward to building a network or peers who are changing their communities in innovative ways.

Rebeca Ramirez, Heart of Brooklyn
Rebeca Ramirez has worked with arts and cultural organizations for more than a decade and is currently the Commercial Revitalization Manager at Heart of Brooklyn. Rebeca hopes to enhance her skills and knowledge through Neighborhood Leadership to put in place a strategy with practical steps for working with the property owners of Washington Avenue to decrease the vacancy rate on Washington Avenue. Washington Avenue between Eastern Parkway & Atlantic Avenue currently has 26 vacancies, 10 of those are uninhabitable and some have been vacant for 10 years. Working closely with the 90 plus merchants Rebecca hopes to build strong working relationships with property owners and help the Prospect Heights community thrive.

Medina Sadiq, Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District
Medina Sadiq has lived and worked throughout the United States and the Caribbean. In 2008, Medina began her tenure as the Executive Director of the Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District, making a major impact on the economic development of the area. Through the Neighborhood Leadership program, she hopes to develop commercial revitalization expertise and the leadership skills that will enable her to take the Boulevard back to its heyday when shoppers visited from all corners of the City and lower Westchester.

Seth Taylor, 82nd Street BID
Seth Taylor is the new Executive Director of the 82nd Street Business Improvement District in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, Queens. 82nd Street is a vibrant commercial corridor with historic buildings, an elevated transit line, diverse shops and restaurants, an independent cinema, and public plazas. Seth looks forward to working with the community to strengthen these assets in order to promote the area as a local and citywide destination.

In order to be eligible for the program, leaders must be dedicated management staff of nonprofit organizations that serve commercial districts in New York City, such as a Business Improvement District (BID), local development corporations or other non-profit organization whose work focuses on commercial revitalization activities. For more information on the Neighborhood Leadership Program visit

About the Department of Small Business Services
The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) makes it easier for businesses in New York City to start, operate, and expand by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, and linking employers to a skilled and qualified workforce. For more information on all of SBS’ services go to

About the Coro New York Leadership Center
Coro is New York City’s premier leadership training program and a community of 2,000 alumni across business, government, schools and non-profits that is shaping the city’s future. For nearly 30 years, Coro has used the city as its classroom teaching students and executives, activists and entrepreneurs how New York works so that they can make it better.  For more information about Coro, please visit

  Contact: Merideth Weber, SBS, 212-513-6318 /  

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