Fulton Street, East New York

A new pilot program, created by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC in collaboration with the NYC Department of Small Business Services and Citi Community Development, is helping small businesses to spruce up their storefronts in an effort to strengthen and revitalize the commercial corridor on Fulton Street in East New York.

The Commercial Corridor Challenge, as the initiative is titled, particularly targets small businesses in underserved and gentrifying neighborhoods by providing financial resources, expertise and support to carry out projects that boost business retention and attraction through physical improvements to storefronts and streetscapes.

“Many urban neighborhoods that have experienced under-investment for generations are finally seeing signs of renewed interest from developers and city officials. While the investment is welcome in many ways, it also threatens to displace long-time businesses who often struggle to keep up with the changing landscape,” states LISC NYC on its website. “The Commercial Corridor Challenge aims to improve the competitiveness of retail corridors low-income New York City neighborhoods so that their local retailers benefit from new investments rather than risk being displaced by them.”

The Corridor Challenge is pursuing two goals. The first is to help businesses undertake a series of modest but highly visible projects to make the retail corridor more inviting to neighborhood residents and visitors, drawing more patrons to spend their dollars in the community. But the program also helps community-based organizations, who are coordinating this work on the ground in the neighborhood, to build their credibility with business owners and develop their capacity to do more corridor improvement work in the future.

In East New York, the program partnered with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) to carry out the commercial revitalization work along the Fulton Street corridor. Such projects can include new signage, lighting and awnings, as well as public space improvements, like vendor pop-up markets and other interventions that are designed to boost foot traffic, sales and a greater sense of safety — which is one of the top concerns for East New York residents, merchants and community leaders, according to LISC NYC.

“Small business support is not something that the city has helped organizations like ours to do enough of—at least not until recently,” said Michelle Neugebauer, executive director of the CHLDC. “Because we know that local businesses aren’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ but, rather, a critical part of a complete, self-sufficient community, we’ve always tried to find ways of doing this work ourselves.”

To learn more about the Commerical Corridor Challenge on Fulton Street, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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