Rapid Repairs? How About A Fast Facelift?
One way to make this a Happy New Year is for Governor Cuomo and other elected officials is to take steps to help our business community. Governor Cuomo has already set aside money for homeowners. Through his Disaster Homeownership Repair and Rebuilding Fund homeowners may get an additional $10,000 if FEMA does not cover all damage and repairs. (Call 855-NYS-SANDY (855-697-7263) to find out if you’re eligible). And that’s great. Many homeowners will need the extra money. But how about a similar grant for storeowners and landlords?
How about $10,000 grants to beautify storefronts? Shopkeepers and landlords with vacant storefronts could use the grant money to buy new awnings, windows, and signs, and maybe spend some of the grant on design work. Storefront facelifts would spiff up entire commercial areas and make the bold pronouncement that stores are back open and ready for the future. Perhaps the city could put out a Request for Proposals so that storefront designers could put in bids to do the work across all of Rockaway.
New, welcoming storefronts would mean improved business. Improved businesses help spring other new businesses. This grant money would eventually lead to a healthier commercial life and more sales tax would be collected. So, this grant would not be a one way street. New York wins in this, too.
The City Council has already put in a gradual ban against “riot gates” those ugly steel roll downs that belong in the era of runaway crime and graffiti-littered subway cars. A storefront grant would allow stores to remove them now and put in place a spanking new façade.
Small business owners face enormous challenges now. A new storefront won’t solve all the problems; many businesses need loans to buy inventory and make inside repairs. But a place that looks new and inviting stands a lot better chance of succeeding.
People invest in their homes and make a neighborhood attractive in the process. But neighborhoods need more than pretty housing. Neighborhoods need viable businesses. And Rockaway needs them now.
Rapid Repairs is a program established for homeowners. Something must be done for businesses. It’s time our elected officials help put a new face on business around here.