QUEENS — The head of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District who sought to turn the neighborhood into a tourist destination, gave up her job last week, less than three years after taking over the organization, to pursue a career in a tech startup, the group announced.
Rhonda Binda, who grew up in Jamaica, began working at the BID in December 2014, hoping to transform the neighborhood, which has been undergoing numerous changes in recent years, into New York's next hotspot.
While running the BID, Binda, a former White House employee who got her law degree at Georgetown University, worked to further develop the neighborhood around the so-called 3T strategy, focusing on tourism, transportation and technology, she wrote on her Facebook page.
She also worked to bring more cultural events to Jamaica. Last year, the BID won the NYC SBS Neighborhood Challenge Grant to create the Jameco Exchange art exhibit in a former women's apparel store at the 165th Street Mall along with No Longer Empty, a nonprofit that transforms vacancies into art spaces.
She also strengthened the BID's social media presence and worked to keep the neighborhood cleaner by curbing illegal dumping.
Binda was also hoping to at some point create "The Ave" app which would help promote local businesses and to launch tours around Jamaica, that would highlight places important in jazz and hip-hop history, as well as old neighborhood churches and ethnic restaurants.
She will now serve as VP of policy for Cincinnati-based data-crunching startup Venture Smarter, “returning to her passion of impacting public policy to innovate in government and improve communities,” the group wrote in a farewell announcement.
"We worked diligently to preserve the multi-cultural fabric and essence of this great community and I am proud to report that 14 of the 18 new businesses we welcomed this last year were small, independent businesses," Binda wrote on her Facebook page. "The focus on local commerce not only improves the neighborhood, but circulates spending power within our community."
It was not immediately clear if Binda will be replaced and whether the organization is looking for a new executive director.