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North Bronx merchants join coalition

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The Bronx Business Alliance has invited all shopping areas community boards 9, 10, 11 to join the newly formed Merchant Coalition.

“Biggest point is that we are organizing the coalition to bring attention to the fact that the north east Bronx has largely been passed over by the City of New York,” said John Bonizio, newly elected president of the board for BBA and head of the Association of Merchants and Professionals in Westchester Square. “The Merchant Coalition is being formed to draw attention to this and reverse the neglect, that if left unchecked, is sure to bring about the decay experienced in the south Bronx so many years ago.”

With elected officials and government agencies taking notice, problems plaguing these corridors may be resolved, such as the over ticketing by traffic agents.

“We have become a cash cow for traffic enforcement with traffic agents put out in droves to steal money from hard working men women trying to shop in their own community,” said Bonizio. “The worst thing you can do to a merchant corridor is to make people afraid to come here.”

The coalition will help with network development, as ewll as sharing information and resources to the merchants they have yet to take advantage of them.

“The intent is to give these guys a little power and a voice, the coalition will help them focus and provide them with services they may need,” said Margaret Arrighi, BBA executive director. “We need people to understand what the small business owners are up against today.”

By organizing each association, the coalition aims to strengthen the shopping districts, keeping shops in business and servicing community needs.

“It was a very nice turnout at the meeting and we will be getting together soon for the initial Merchants Coalition meeting to plan an agenda,” said Bob Beider, member of Castle Hill Merchants Association and chairman of the board for the coalition. “With everything going on in the economy today we want to know things will be done and that everyone is aware of our issues. Many of the merchants association have several things in common and a lot of the same needs.”

Funding and support for the BBA and Merchant Coalition are provided by Assemblyman Carl Heastie and Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

“With the economy going through problems, strengthening our commercial strips becomes an even greater challenge,” said Vacca. “I will continue to support the continued activity of these merchant groups and reactivating those that fell by the waste side.”

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