Vice President Kamala Harris made a special trip to Bed-Stuy Thursday to announce a multi-billion dollar national economic plan, holding up the neighborhood as a model of what can be achieved when a community works together for economic development.

Vice President Kamala Harris at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza July 28. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader

At a press conference held on a sweltering summer afternoon at Fulton Street’s Restoration Plaza—home to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation— Harris announced the new plan to invest in underserved communities.

The vice president said she chose Bed-Stuy specifically because she wanted to “lift it up to show folks around the country what is possible.”

“It’s tapping into the capacity of communities, because we’re not creating it, it already exists,” she said, as the crowd responded, “mmm-hmmm, that’s right!”

State and city movers-and-shakers packed into a small auditorium hung with a wall-sized American flag for the Biden-Harris Administration announcement. The atmosphere was convivial and relaxed—with members of the audience taking selfies, some taking naps, and others fanning themselves to relieve the heat.

Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation CEO Blondel Pinnock introduced Harris with a hat-tip to both Shirley Chisholm and the Notorious B.I.G, with a speech that reinforced the corporation’s commitment to closing the racial wealth gap and fostering a model for Black wealth.

Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation CEO Blondel Pinnock. Photo: BK Reader

She noted that it would be remiss not to point out that she herself was a Black lawyer of Jamaican heritage in a historic leadership position, introducing another Black lawyer of Jamaican heritage in a historic leadership position to the stage.

The Attorney General takes a selfie. Photo: BK Reader

“Thank you to the Biden-Harris Administration for being a firm ally in the fight for economic justice and equity for Black families,” she said.

Settling the crowd after a standing ovation as she walked in, Harris announced the creation of a new Economic Opportunity Coalition, which will invest tens of billions of dollars in underserved communities such as Bed-Stuy.

The plan centers around public-private partnerships, funding community development financial institutions and increasing investment and access to capital for small business owners who are people of color, women and live in rural areas.

“All across our nation there are places like Bed-Stuy—reservoirs of ambition and aspiration—waiting to be tapped,” the vice president said, to applause.

Some Bed-Stuy residents waited outside, hoping to see the VP in person. Photo: BK Reader

She pointed to The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation as a model for success. The corporation was ideated in 1967, at the peak of discriminatory lending that decimated the neighborhoods’ business potential.

“To address this challenge, leaders like the dearly-departed Al Vann came together and decided to try something new, and founded the The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation,” Harris told the room.

Mayor Eric Adams. Photo: BK Reader

“This is why I am here. It was the nation’s first public-private development corporation, and because of its success it remains not only the first, but a model for all the rest.”

Introductory speakers included NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Lieutenant Governor of New York Antonio Delgado and NY Attorney General Letitia James.

Attorney General Letitia James on Fulton Street. Photo: BK Reader

“It’s always good to have the vice president here in the borough of Brooklyn,” Adams said, adding that Harris was bringing a message to lift up those needing the help during this time, particularly small business owners.

Speaking separately, Attorney General James said Brooklyn had overwhelmingly voted for the Biden-Harris Administration, and now the administration was putting money back into the community and others like it.

“It’s a great day for Brooklyn,” she said.

Outside a small group of protestors gathered—some speaking out against inflation, some targeting Mayor Adams, and some against vaccination and wearing masks. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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  1. bedstuy and other parts of brooklyn rent is so high black and brown people are getting pushed out and only 30 % affordable out of 500 or so units, and most of those affordable 30% are middle income

    1. Joe, it’s the way it is in the housing market. 6 months after 2nd Subway is built north to and westward on 125th, you’ll see displacement like you’ve never seen. This city ain’t building billion-dollar new subways for existing crumby low-income apts that now line 1st and 2nd avenues and the slimy businesses along 125th. Need proof, go to the existing last new station up at 96th Street; south of and west along that street, all new development…northward, it’s a slum with no investment in new housing.

  2. Ah, the laughing cackler cackled her way into New York. Spare me with this emptiest of empty suits.

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