Valentine’s Day maybe long gone, but it’s not too late to show some love for your favorite locally-owned business on the peninsula.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Dept. of Small Business Commissioner Gregg Bishop recently announced the launch of ‘NYC Love Your Local.’ This is a new initiative to celebrate and promote diverse, independent, small businesses across the five boroughs. The program encourages New Yorkers to share their favorite independent, non-franchise businesses, by adding them to an interactive map available online at nyc.gov/loveyourlocal. In addition, shared businesses may also apply for a share of $1.8 million in grant funding and expert advice to help them better meet competitive pressure. You can also share why you love your favorite local business on social media by using the hashtag #LoveYourLocalNYC.
According to the Mayor’s Committee on Consumer Affairs, studies have shown that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the community.
Local resident, real estate broker and member of the newly-formed Rockaway Business Alliance (RBA), Jamie Schultz, agrees. “Year-round businesses in Rockaway will not survive without local support,” Shultz said. “Think about the income that is being lost in the community, when you choose to cross the bridges to shop. In my opinion, the number one thing that is being lost is food and beverage. This is a market that absolutely can grow. There are opportunities for more restaurants, specialty food shops and cafes to set up businesses here. There is definitely room for growth. Hands down, people spend most of their money on food.
“However, the only way the mayor and SBA’s initiative is going to benefit Rockaway is if we as a community organize and take part in these programs. At the RBA, we are taking advantage of these grants and facilitating them to neighborhood businesses. The more organized we become, the more we can help each other. I feel more optimistic about the direction Rockaway is heading now, than I did five years ago. There’s new blood, there’s old blood, but there is a willingness to work together. Representatives from the Queens County Economic Development Corporation recently came to one of our RBA meetings. They encouraged us to share any event, sale, festival, or business initiative in Rockaway. They said that they would put it on their homepage because they want Rockaway businesses to succeed and flourish. They are actively reaching out to Rockaway business owners to support Rockaway,” Sultz said.
Rachel Krieger, founder of Ladies of Rockaway Beach Business and also a member of RBA, who is also working on an interactive map of woman, locally-owned businesses throughout the peninsula said, “I think it is incredible that our Mayor is getting more involved in our local businesses. Local businesses add to the community. Shopping local is a great way for us to support each other and funnel money back into the community. I am just curious to see how the Mayor and SBA’s interactive map will drive tourists and outsiders to come to Rockaway and see all the great things we have to offer!” Krieger said.
Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) also stressed the importance of shopping local. “As a small-business owner, I know that locally-owned businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. Any initiative that promotes our local economy, and supports local business stability, is very much appreciated,” Pheffer Amato said.
However, she cautioned, “Still, let's keep this investment in context. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, we received some rebuilding aid, but this is one of a vanishingly small number of programs aiming to promote or help small businesses, at a time when there is high demand for what our neighborhoods have to offer. $1.8 million, spread out over all five boroughs, is certainly welcome, but it amounts to just the icing on the cake. I hope this program is the start of a serious effort to invest in local business promotion and assistance, especially in areas still recovering from Sandy and other severe regional hardships,” Pheffer Amato said.
As of press time, 23 businesses have already been nominated and entered in the ‘NYC Love Your Local’ interactive map.
The timeline for the initiative is as follows:
Winter 2017: New Yorkers share the local businesses they love; Spring 2017: businesses apply for grants; Summer 2017: winning businesses receive expert advice; Fall 2017-Winter 2018: businesses receive grants to make improvements.
For more information on the Mayor and SBA’s ‘NYC Love Your Local’ initiative, visit loveyourlocal.cityofnewyork.us
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