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Fordham Road reports business is brisk

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Despite the current economic climate around the country, the Fordham Road Business Improvement District saw growth in 2009, and members expect the trend to continue through 2010.

About 25 Fordham residents, business owners and representatives of elected officials met at the Fordham BID’s 5th annual meeting Thursday, June 3, at the Bronx Library Center to discuss the accomplishments and pitfalls of the past fiscal year, and look at what the 2010-2011 year may have in store for the area.

“I think it’s a great year because of the amount of programs we’re putting together to service the members in this tough year, and we’re bringing in more people to serve the area. We’re glad our merchants are so active,” BID executive director Wilma Alonso said. “We don’t have the vacancy rates you see in other areas. We’re at three percent. And when you see one store close, you know another one is opening.”

The Fordham Road BID is focused on promoting the more than 300 businesses in the 80 properties along Fordham Road between 3rd and Jerome avenues. The main services the BID provides are sanitation and graffiti removal, networking seminars and workshops, marketing and promotions, including discount programs that are available to about 300,000 customers and capital improvements and beautification projects, including the restoration of Bryan Park, which is expected to be completed by 2011.

While the area has continued to thrive, the bad economy has started draining the coffers of the BID budget. At the meeting Thursday, BID officials presented the budget numbers for the current fiscal year, which wraps up June 30, and the projected budget for the year starting on June 1.

While total revenue is expected to jump from $679,000 to $703,500, expenses are also expected to increase from $638,675 to $683,500, which means about $10,000 less in next year’s budget for services.

According to Alonso, the board of directors is looking into raising the amount of money the group draws from its members for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 to combat the rising expenses. Since the business agency began five years ago, it has never raised its annual $500,000 assessment, Alonso said.

“Our sanitation expense is now at $220,000 a year, so that’s nearly half the assessment.” She also said that increasing the assessment “would keep the levels of services that we currently have and then we could add some new programs and initiatives.”

Alonso said the board hopes that by then, the economy will have recovered to a point where any increased dues will not be a burden to the members and the business community can continue to grow.

“Over the past two years of hard economic times, this area has seen continued growth of new businesses.” Daniel Bernstein, deputy executive director of the BID, said. “The outlook for Fordham 25 years ago was dire, but now it’s bright, despite the national economic outlook.”

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com.

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