INWOOD — The city's Department of Small Business Services is investing millions of dollars in neighborhoods across the city, including Inwood, to boost community beautification projects, support small businesses and foster a sense of community, officials said.
Upper Manhattan got $1.23 million through the Neighborhood 360° program, a three-year grant to “meet locally identified needs,” which it will share with the Washington Heights Business Improvement District (BID) and organizations like the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), Inwood Art Works, Northern Manhattan Arts and Culture (NMAC) and Friends of Inwood Hill Park, officials said.
“Strong neighborhoods are the backbone of our city, and the $1.23 million in investments to Inwood will go a long way towards revitalizing key commercial corridors,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, in an email to DNAinfo New York. “By working with the Washington Heights BID, we are responding to local needs to support small business growth and build more vibrant neighborhoods for all New Yorkers.”
The BID received the funding for the Neighborhood 360° initiative in March, as part of an $8.34 million grant that also awarded six other community organizations in downtown Flushing, Queens, Staten Island, East Harlem, East New York and Jerome Avenue in The Bronx, officials said.
Angelina M. Ramírez, executive director of the Washington Heights BID, told a group of supporters and members of Neighborhood 360° program gathered in Inwood Hill Park Monday night that the initiative marks the latest addition to their work to revitalize the neighborhood.
“We just want to create programming that is family-friendly and language-friendly,” Ramírez said. “The BID is the lead, but we have all these subcontractors like NoMAA and Inwood Art Works. We also sponsor volunteer organizations like Friends of Inwood Hill Park, but then there are other projects like the BID itself is doing, like supplementation of sanitation services and holiday lights.”
Ramírez said the organization’s work started in 2015, when Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez provided the BID with discretionary funding to launch a four- to six-month needs assessment of commercial districts that provided more information on the business landscape in Inwood and other business trends and demographics.
The grant requires the Washington Heights BID to ensure recipients hold events and workshops for the community on behalf of the program, launch a marketing campaign, carry out beautification and sanitation efforts, and organize and retain local businesses.
Many of these efforts are already underway, including “Up in Inwood,” a website for local residents and businesses slated to launch at the end of June, according to Jose Porretti, project manager of the Neighborhood 360° program in the Washington Heights BID.
The BID has also hosted several workshops and free courses for businesses to improve their work.
"Our mission is to unlock the economic potential and create economic opportunities for all New Yorkers, and we sort of take great approaches to that," said Kris Goddard, executive director of neighborhood development division.
"This work here — the events we're talking about the investment in the BID to support all this different work, whether it's placemaking, whether it's cleaning up our streets, whether it's putting up banners, whether it's helping coordinate the actual networking events and bringing merchants together — that stuff is essential to building a vibrant community. That's the stuff we're investing in."