SBS report cites $134.7 million investments made by businesses
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Business improvement districts (BIDs) do more than improve the bottom line for storeowners, according to the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), which has issued an eye-opening report detailing the ways in which BIDs invest in their communities to make the neighborhoods better for residents and shopkeepers alike.
The city’s BIDs invested a total of $134.7 million in their communities during Fiscal Year 2016, SBS officials said.
The information is contained in a report called the SBS FY16 Business Improvement Districts Trends.
Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park BID, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings in the report.
“Our members don’t see themselves as being plopped into a community. We feel that we are part of the community. There is a closeness there,” Giordano told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The Sunset Park BID covers Fifth Avenue between 38th and 64th streets.
The $134.7 million figure cited in the SBS report included $695,000 in grants from SBS. The funding supported efforts by BIDs efforts to promote commercial corridors and address quality-of-life issues.
The BIDs represent 85,000 businesses across New York City, according to SBS.
Brooklyn has 25 BIDs. The list includes 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Atlantic Avenue, Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue, Bed-Stuy Gateway, Brighton Beach, Church Avenue, Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn, DUMBO, East Brooklyn, Flatbush Avenue, Flatbush-Nostrand Junction, Flatbush Area Business Alliance and Fulton Mall.
Here are more BIDs in Brooklyn: Graham Avenue, Grant Street, Kings Highway, Metro Tech, Montague Street, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, North Flatbush, Park Skope Fifth Avenue, Pitkin Avenue and Sunset Park.
The success stories of Brooklyn BIDs include:
Launching mobile apps that helped provide small businesses with a platform to promote their products and engage with the community. The Sunset Park BID’s new app features a directory of businesses in the district, coupons from local merchants, raffles and giveaways, and a list of upcoming events.
An ADA compliance program launched by the Graham Avenue BID. The BID surveyed storefront entrances and identified those in need of accessibility improvements. Funded by a SBS Neighborhood Challenge grant, the BID worked with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to consult with merchants to make access easier.
Giordano said another program by the BID to offer free WiFi on Fifth Avenue has drawn widespread praise, and not just from business owners. “There are a lot of people in our community who would not have access to the Internet without the WiFi we are providing. I’ve gotten emails from parents telling me their kids couldn’t do their homework without WiFi,” she told the Eagle.
“Each and every day Business Improvement Districts are delivering important services that are helping build safer, cleaner, and more vibrant neighborhoods across our city,” SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop said in a statement. “BIDs are invested in their communities and their local leadership helps small business corridors grow and succeed.”
The results of work performed by BIDs in Fiscal Year 2016 included:
Held 4,324 public events that attracted 10.5 million attendees;
Collected 3.9 million bags of trash;
Logged 1.4 million hours of supplemental sanitation services;
Removed 85,190 instances of graffiti;
Maintained 15,551 pieces of street furniture; and
Supported holiday lighting on 3,189 city blocks.
Councilmember Robert Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant), chairman of the Committee on Small Business, said the SBS report offers important information.
"Last year, nearly $135 million dollars was invested through Business Improvement Districts. Our city has the largest network of BIDs in the nation, and as I look around at several — from the Times Square Alliance to Southern Blvd; from the Long Island City Partnership to the Bed-Stuy Gateway, I am pleased to see New Yorkers who are hands-on in their viability. Their continued success and economic growth proves what can be accomplished through partnerships between our government, nonprofits, property owners, tenants and residents,” Cornegy said in a statement.
The SBS FY16 Business Improvement District Trends Report also features comparative expenditure data and details the sources of BID revenue.
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To view the full SBS report, visit nyc.gov/sbs.