FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2023
CITY DEPLOYS NEW GRANT PROGRAM TO EXPAND REACH OF MERCHANTS ASSOCIATIONS IN DIVERSE COMMUNITIES
New Merchant Organizing Strategic Impact Grant Supports Mayor's 'Blueprint for Economic Recovery' Commitment to Provide Critical Resources to Fortify Commercial Corridors Across NYC
New York, NY - The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and Mayor's Office of Equity (MOE) today announced the launch of the Merchant Organizing Strategic Impact Grant, which funds local nonprofit organizations to form new merchants associations or fortify existing merchants associations. This major $2.4M investment will support diverse communities – many hit hard by the pandemic – in building vibrant neighborhood business communities and commercial corridors.
In partnership with the NYC Mayor's Office of Equity, grant funding will go to projects that engage merchants to develop relationships, foster partnerships, and build local capacity to guide ongoing commercial revitalization efforts. Fourteen nonprofit organizations will receive grants totaling nearly $2.4M to work in approximately 20 neighborhoods and commercial corridors, including to expand the reach of SBS's Neighborhood 360° projects into neighborhoods supported by SBS grants for the first-time.
"This initiative will help infuse nearly $2.4 million into diverse communities, uplift local organizations and ensure that we lead with equity centered solutions as part our city's economic recovery efforts," said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. "I'm proud of the collaborative effort that the NYC Mayor's Office of Equity and Small Business Services have put forth. Now more than ever, fostering long-term programs that support local businesses is critical to our future."
"Supporting our merchant associations, street vendors, and storefronts is critical to propelling our economic recovery and building strong, thriving neighborhoods," said Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. "I'm particularly proud that this new program will support street vendors — our smallest small businesses — and help them foster collaborative relationships along our commercial corridors."
"SBS is laser-focused on helping New York City neighborhoods thrive. This first-of-its-kind program gives a strategic boost to merchant organizations operating throughout our city, expanding the City's support in new neighborhoods," said SBS Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. "From marketing to activating public spaces in commercial corridors, this grant will push to make conditions for businesses in our City even better."
"Vibrant and diverse commercial corridors are what make our city great. We're thrilled to partner with NYC Small Business Services to support merchant organizing and expand the City's reach into even more communities," said MOE Commissioner Sideya Sherman. "With this new investment, we're helping local businesses and partners develop new, innovative strategies to promote community-driven neighborhood revitalization."
Projects and services kickstarted through this grant include community cultural events and vendor pop-up markets to increase awareness of local businesses on commercial corridors, and the design and installation of street banners and murals to enhance the identity of a neighborhood and advertise local businesses. Projects and services will align with best practices outlined in SBS's Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Merchants Association.
"The Mayor's Strategic Impact Grant is having a direct and positive impact on the Alliance for Coney Island's mission of improving the quality of life for the neighborhood's small business community, shoppers, and residents. Using the grant to target the public realm along Coney Island's commercial corridors, The Alliance, working with the NYC Department of Small Business Services, is turning public investment into more brightly lit, cleaner and welcoming environment on Mermaid and Surf avenues. The grant allows the Alliance to engage with our merchants and residents to attract more street shoppers and revitalize our businesses," said Daniel Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island.
"ANHD is excited to partner with SBS on this opportunity to work with and support our neighborhood-based organizations in revitalizing efforts to form and strengthen merchant associations throughout the boroughs. We cannot overstate the importance of merchant organizing in keeping New York City's smallest businesses open, especially those owned by and serving immigrants and people of color. ANHD and our members know sustaining these businesses is crucial to an approach to equitable economic development that centers our local neighborhoods," said Barika Williams, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development.
"This funding from the Merchant Organizing Strategic Impact Grant will support Bridge Street Development Corp in continuing its intrinsic work revitalizing historic commercial corridors and improving merchant relations and sustainability throughout Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights," said Oma Holloway, Chief Operating Officer of Bridge Street Development Corporation.
"We are grateful for this opportunity, four months after the Ribbon Cutting of our organization, to receive a grant to support our merchant organizing, marketing, and beautification efforts. We appreciate our partnership with the Brooklyn Alliance and their support of the Canarsie community," said Norine Medas, Founder of the Rockaway Parkway Merchants Corridor Association.
"Through our deep ties in these communities, Brooklyn Emerge seeks to leverage its relationships with cultural, spiritual, and business leaders to form two strong merchants associations to cultivate, develop and promote local assets. With the support of SBS we will help merchants elevate and market their business, improve their neighborhood, and help them achieve their strategic goals," said Salman Rehman, COO of Brooklyn Emerge.
"SBS' Neighborhood 360° program has greatly impacted the Belmont Avenue corridor and Brownsville at large. This additional merchant organizing funding will enable the Brownsville Community Justice Center to provide additional technical support to businesses, grow the merchants association, and enhance quality of life on the corridor, all of which will create opportunities for existing businesses to flourish on Belmont Avenue and for new businesses to relocate to the corridor," said Mallory Thatch, Commercial Revitalization Program Manager at Brownsville Community Justice Center.
"This Merchant Organizing grant will enable COPO to continue to revitalize and beautify the commercial corridor and help make it represent the rich culture that this corridor has to offer. Through the Neighborhood 360° program, COPO was able to help, educate and provide informational resources to business owners in the corridor to help grow their business and make informed business-related decisions. The religious and cultural activities that we are able to help organize in the corridor not only help to promote the area's diversity but also increase foot traffic in the area which helps to promote the rich, and vast cultural heritage that the community has to offer," said Mohammad Razvi, CEO of Council of Peoples Organization.
"With small business and neighborly-based participation at its core, FDC capitalizes on the Ditmas Park-Flatbush community's assets, inspiration, and potential, to provide quality public programming where businesses and neighbors can contribute to the prosperity, health, and wellbeing of our area. With SBS as a strategic partner, FDC provides a crucial and deeply valued process of inter-connectivity between our businesses and community, creating a powerful collective that is needed to operate during COVID and beyond," said Lupe Ramsey, Director of Economic Development at Flatbush Development Corporation.
"MPC is honored to receive additional funding in our last year of the Neighborhood 360° program and hopes to showcase the commercial viability of the North Bronx through our added programs. This increase has allowed us to focus on the merchant organizing aspect of our work, which is extremely important for the maintenance and growth of the Northwest Merchants Association. Coming up with community-driven solutions to our commercial corridor's problems and addressing the need for sustainable future programming are all necessary to continue having a positive impact on our neighborhood," said Daniela Beasley, Executive Director of Mosholu Preservation Corporation.
"Brownsville is a creative community, and with the Merchant Organizing Strategic Impact Grant, the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District partnered with Brownsville brick-and-mortar merchants, leveraging their skill sets and space to offer no-cost classes to the community connecting Brownsville's community to professional development opportunities with local businesses. The maker space model allowed the BID to provide a first-of-its-kind opportunity to the businesses, working with them to develop advertisements, curriculum, and positive community relationships. This opportunity encouraged other merchants to visit the hosting business, and several businesses are now interested in participating in the maker space initiative," said Tiera M. Mack, Executive Director of Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.
"Junction Boulevard is a vital commercial corridor in Corona. The Queens Economic Development Corporation looks forward to working with the Street Vendor Project, local businesses, and community organizations in studying ways in which to improve and enhance this important shopping street through merchant organizing, cleanup activities and placemaking events," said Seth Bornstein, Executive Director of Queens Economic Development Corporation.
"The Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center is thrilled to partner with the NYC Department of Small Business Services to provide resources, education, and merchant organizing support to our city's smallest businesses. This timely investment in street vending ensures street vendors play an active role in our economy's growth and recovery, while continuing to keep our public spaces safe and vibrant. We look forward to continued collaborations with SBS to support our city's smallest businesses," said Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, Deputy Director at the Street Vendor Project.
"The Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) is proud to receive increased funding from the NYC Department of Small Business Services, to strengthen local merchants' ability to recover, stabilize and grow in the Crotona East section of the Bronx. With this additional support from SBS, WHEDco will coordinate with merchants and community members to reignite a welcoming sense of place on the Southern Boulevard-Boston Road commercial corridor, through first-time supplemental sanitation and graffiti removal services that restore neighborhood cleanliness, bolstering district marketing and branding online and in-store, and enhancing Shop Local sales and marketing events for merchants to engage and re-engage local shoppers from near and far," said Kerry A. McLean, Vice President, Community Development, at WHEDco.
"Yemeni American Merchants Association welcomes the NYC Department of Small Business Services and Mayor's Office of Equity's launch of their Merchant Organizing Strategic Impact Grant program. This initiative provides an invaluable opportunity to communities and small businesses: ensuring equitable access for all businesses, while simultaneously promoting economic development, job creation and quality services in New York City small business communities," said Joel Feliciano, Chief Operating Officer at YAMA.
About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/sbs, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About the Mayor's Office of Equity (MOE)
Launched in Spring 2022, the Mayor's Office of Equity (MOE) helps foster a fairer, more equitable city through policy, practices, and programs across all City agencies and systems. As the City's first, centralized equity office, MOE is an integral component of Mayor Adams's vision to build a stronger and healthier city that delivers for all New Yorkers. MOE utilizes an intersectional approach to equity and includes the Commission on Gender Equity (CGE), the Racial Justice Commission (RJC), the Pay Equity Cabinet (PEC), the Unity Project (UP), the Young Men's Initiative (YMI), and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity (TRIE). Together, this body of offices and commissions engages New York's diverse communities and constituencies to create transformative change.