RDRC Community Update
Great things are happening in the Rockaways, especially if you own a business. This seems to be the consensus of the staff at the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation’s Business and Professional Services Division.
For starters, the Rockaway East Merchant’s Association held a meeting on June 12 at North Fork Bank on Mott Ave and the turnout was great says Tony Berkel, the newly appointed Division Director. "This is a time when the city has to carefully manage its resources but also consider the small business owner. To witness a gathering of concerned entrepreneurs all sharing a common goal is in itself revitalizing". Berkel highlighted aspects of the Commercial Revitalization Program offered by the city’s Department of Small Business Services as well as lead the meeting in advising the merchants in thinking about long-term projects such as the possibility of having Rockaway’s first Business Improvement District (BID). In addition, representatives from Councilmember James Sanders, Jr., and ACCION New York were also in attendance and spoke on various economic development issues.
On the west end of the Rockaways, a vibrant commercial corridor already exist on Beach 116th. RDRC is currently working with the New York State Economic Development Corporation in expanding the existing Empire Zone so that merchants on Beach 116th can also
enjoy the variety of discounts and incentives already available to merchants on the east end.
Berkel says with the expansion of the Empire Zones, due to be implemented in the fall of 2003, Beach 116th street has the potential of becoming a commercial corridor that attracts non-Rockaway residents that enjoy "quality shopping" while taking advantage of the wonderful beaches on the peninsula. Furthermore, Berkel states that the savings each business owner will incur can be recycled. In addition, RDRC plans to work closely with the local chamber of commerce as well as bring other programs to the peninsula such as the CWE Wage Subsidy program. This program offered through the Consortium for Workers Education, supports businesses negatively impacted by the events of September 11th. RDRC’s partnership with the Queens County Overall Economic Development Corporation makes it possible for businesses in the Rockaways to participate in this much needed assistance. Businesses eligible for assistance must be in one of the seven targeted sectors: Cultural/Arts, Manufacturing, Trans-portation, Technology/Communication, healthcare, FIRE, or retail/food. RDRC plans to market this program as "Rockaway Works".