BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Earlier this week, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul toured 10 small businesses along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, listening to the concerns and challenges the owners of the businesses face.
“I’ve always felt passionate about being an advocate and fighting for small businesses who are just simply trying to be part of a community, bring jobs to an area and provide a service,” said Hochul. “Sometimes they feel the government is on their back instead of on their side and that’s something the senator and I work very hard to do: to try to elevate the burdens and barriers that are on the backs of our businesses.
My thing is if they go because they can’t compete with the big businesses and the malls or if they can’t compete with the rent, this will be a shadow of the community’s former self.”
The tour began at Brands & Co., where the owner explained that his problem, along with the other small businesses in the area, is competition.
Peralta encouraged people to shop small and help family-owned establishments to thrive.
“It is vital that we support our local stores and keep revitalizing our local economy,” said Peralta. “This commercial corridor, like others, is an engine for our local economy, and it has not reached its full potential. Although the thoroughfare has some bad actors, such as some establishments acting as fronts for illegal activity, it is important to boost Roosevelt Avenue as it is the path to many of the city’s best attractions.”
Hochul’s response to competition and something she encouraged throughout the tour was for small businesses to create websites so that they can sell some of their products online and capture some of the new businesses, along with the millennials who are accustomed to shopping online.
“I do think that they [small businesses] are concerned about competition to the extent that we can start a new way for them to market themselves,” said Hochul. “Selling their products online can help supplement their income and make payroll easier or to help them pay their rent.”
In an effort to help small businesses gear towards the web, Hochul said she will be providing lots of workshops for the small businesses that may be intimidated to do exports or just don’t know how to go about creating a website.
As they walked from business to business, Peralta pointed out the chipped paint underneath the 7 train line that passes East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Hochul agreed that an infrastructure upgrade is a dire need in Jackson Heights.
“Infrastructure is an important part,” said Hochul. “We have to make sure our transportation corridors are strong because we have to be able to have the people go into the subways here and have people continue to walk through these neighborhoods. So if there are any breakdowns or shutdowns, that affect the businesses.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org