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East Harlem to Receive $1.5 Million Grant for Small Businesses

By Dartunorro Clark | March 15, 2017 3:43pm

EAST HARLEM — A neighborhood nonprofit is getting $1.5 million to beautify and market local retail strips as part of an economic infusion by the city to help boost struggling commercial corridors. 

The city’s Department of Small Business Services is planning to pump $9 million total into seven city neighborhoods through a program called Neighborhood 360, which identifies and targets troubled retail area with customized plans.

East Harlem’s Union Settlement, a social-services nonprofit, was selected to be the point agency in the neighborhood to address a number of concerns noted in a report by the department.

In the report issued last year, the department studied East Harlem and found that there were 778 storefronts in the neighborhood — with 110 of them, about 14 percent, vacant.

Other findings included the fact that more than 80 percent of area businesses find it hard to attract customers and that residents want healthier food options.

With the money, Union Settlement plans to address cleaning and beatification projects along East 116th and 125th streets, work with local mom-and-pop shops to bolster marketing efforts, and devise neighborhood tourism strategies, among other initiatives.  

The nonprofit will disperse $1.49 million over four years, beginning this year, to help reach those goals. 

“Strong neighborhoods are the backbone of our city, and the nearly $9 million in investments announced today will go a long way towards revitalizing key commercial corridors,” said Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop in a statement.

The five other areas include Downtown Flushing, East New York, Inwood, Jerome Avenue in The Bronx, parts of Staten Island's North Shore and the Lower East Side.