Borough President Antonio Reynoso on Friday showed support for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and small businesses in Southeast Brooklyn by presenting the organization with a $20,000 check in funding earmarked for the neighborhood.
The money will support the Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Economic Development Division (NED) program.
NED supports commercial revitalization activities in commercial corridors that aren’t represented by an organizing entity such as a business improvement district, a merchants’ association or a local development corporation.
The program allows businesses in underserved neighborhoods to access business support services, government resources and district marketing, and addresses key needs for commercial development.
Reynoso’s presentation took place during a conference outside of Assemblymember Jaime Williams’ office in Flatlands. Williams and other elected representatives serving the area, State Sen. Roxanne Persaud and Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse, took part in the ceremony.
Reynoso said he was grateful to be at Williams’ office at Avenue N near East 53rd Street for what he called a very important day.
“When I ran for office, I told folks that I’m going to be all over Brooklyn,” he said. “There’s not a part of Brooklyn that is not going to see me. I want to make sure we go to where the needs are. We are not going after who has the most political capital or who has the most votes for a future race. We are going to go where people need us off data and target information.”
He added that officials had told him the businesses along Avenue N were in dire need of support.
“Business owners were there letting us know the support they needed,” he said. “I told them I would be back, and I was back with Randy Peers and the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve never run a business, but I know this Chamber is the greatest one in New York City. Businesses need a life line. Businesses need help, and the people you go to is the Brooklyn Chamber.”
Peers, who serves as president and CEO of the Chamber, thanked Reynoso, with whom he’s been friends for 20 years.
“It’s been a great run, and it’s going to continue,” he said. “We are very grateful. This community is blessed with amazing elected officials. To have leadership like that, you can move mountains. I’m grateful to them. This is also my community. I represent Brooklyn, but I grew up here. I shop here. I’m here every day.”
Also in attendance were Calvin and Latoya Sennon, owners of the local restaurant TriniJam BK, 9501 Flatlands Ave.
Peers talked about how the business opened at the height of the COVID pandemic. After a ribbon-cutting that Chamber personnel attended, the owners had to pivot from day one and do takeout only, despite their new dining area.
“They persisted and moved on and built up the business,” Peers said. “Everyone in the community came out to support them. It was going OK, but then Hurricane Ida came and the basement was flooded.”
A couple of weeks later, once the Chamber received grants, the first restaurant Peers called was TriniJam BK to help the owners, Peers recalled.
“It was life-saving, the stuff that we got,” said Calvin. “We wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for these elected officials and the support we got from the Chamber of Commerce. We were literally going to go out of business. We put in every single resource we had. Randy and them came and stepped up.”
Persaud applauded the Chamber, which she said has embraced the small businesses in the community.
“[Reynoso] made a pledge to us and today is a great day because small businesses are still struggling,” she said. “There are many hurdles they have gone through and will continue to go through. COVID-19 showed us the deficiencies that we have to address. We are beginning to address that, and this is not the end. The borough president will continue to come back with additional funding.”
Williams said that Peers and the members of the Chamber team walked the entire strip in Canarsie with her and Persaud, providing services for small businesses, especially during COVID.
“Today is another milestone we are making to continue to support our small businesses through the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “We are trying our best to make sure they have the funding that is needed.”