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NYC Small Business Services

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Monday, September 16, 2013


Neighborhood Challenge Encourages Community Organizations to Strengthen Neighborhoods Across The City Through Creative, Sustainable and Replicable Initiatives.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and SBS Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today announced the launch of Neighborhood Challenge, a competitive grant initiative designed to encourage innovation and service delivery improvements from Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Local Development Corporations (LDCs) that will generate economic activity and attract more jobs and investment to local commercial corridors. Grants ranging up to $100,000 will be awarded to the BIDs and LDCs that present the most creative and impactful economic development and revitalization projects that would otherwise not be achieved due to limited capacity and/or funding.  Projects should also aim to leverage additional talent, partners, and resources outside of city government to achieve wide-ranging outcomes.
“Mayor Bloomberg has made strengthening neighborhoods throughout New York City a focus of his Administration,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “By encouraging both BIDs and LDCs to launch creative efforts in a few areas, we hope to spur new ideas that can be used citywide.” 

“Last year’s BID Challenge program resulted in creative projects planned and executed across New York City, and the Neighborhood Challenge program will expand the competition by including BIDs and also LDCs, and offering larger grant amounts,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “I look forward to proposals from BIDs and LDCs that will help strengthen the City’s neighborhoods through marketing, attracting new businesses, and activating underutilized spaces.”

Neighborhood Challenge grants will focus on the following project categories:

  • Business Attraction, Retention & Growth – Projects include strategies to assist in the recruitment of new businesses or growth of existing businesses as well as raising the entrepreneurial profile of commercial districts.
  • District Planning, Streetscape Improvements, & Space Activation – Projects include district planning/management initiatives as well as open space, streetscape, and storefront improvements that enhance the urban design, public use or economic viability of a commercial area.
  • Districtwide Marketing & Events – Projects include programs, events, and art installations that improve the image and vitality of a commercial district, as well as strategies that use print, electronic media or multimedia efforts to promote retail corridors.

In 2012, the City launched BID Challenge and received 37 project proposals from BIDs across New York City. Selected BIDs were awarded grants up to $75,000 for innovative projects including storefront improvements, district marketing campaigns, and public art installations. Programs and initiatives are currently being implemented across the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Neighborhood Challenge expands on the BID Challenge program by offering larger grant amounts and including both LDCs, as well as BIDs among eligible organizations.

Funded organizations are expected to set measurable goals and deliver completed projects at the end of the contract term. The contract term will begin in November, 2013 and end October, 2014.  Completed applications can be submitted through the SBS website.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 11:59 p.mNeighborhood Challenge awardees will be chosen by a selection panel consisting of experts in the fields of commercial revitalization and local economic development. Neighborhood Challenge Awardees will be announced in early November. Applicants with questions should direct inquiries to

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

Merideth Weber (SBS), 212-513-6318,

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