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Bronx biz groups start thinking big

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Recently members of the Westchester Square Merchants and the Morris Park Business Alliance met with the business consulting group Retail Council of New York. The group helps businesses organize available space in commercial corridors so they can target national chain stores that would thrive in the area.

“We’re trying to find out what we can do to make our spaces more attractive to businesses,” said Margaret Arrighi, president of the Bronx Business Alliance. “This way we’ll really be able to target those retailers that have an interest in the area. It should save a lot of time, because we’ve been running around to businesses at the local level and making a lot of cold calls.”

At the meeting, which was held on Thursday, August 12, business leaders met Ted Potrikus, executive vice president of the consulting group and director of governmental relations.

Retail Council of New York has been around since 1931 and helps retailers combine interests so they can work together to leverage strength. The group is based in Albany.

According to Arrighi, this is the first consulting group the businesses have used to attract retailers. She hopes the retail-oriented group will help them keep landlords and retailers up to date on which stores are interested in the area and what retailers are looking for.

The information could lead landlords to join adjacent space to attract larger to mid-range retailers and add to the types of businesses in the area, Arrighi said.

“This is an important first step. It will help us to focus on the opportunities we have, and to understand what we need to do for the business-owners and landlords,” she said.

“A lot of stores in that area are either too big or too small, and if we have these consultants telling the landlords that, it’s a lot more convincing. This way we can say to landlords, ‘If you’re interested in having a major retailer and you have the ability to meet their needs, then here’s what we can do to make the space more attractive.’”

The groups will meet again soon, but in the meantime local business leaders will be canvassing landlords and store-owners to find out what spaces are currently available, and what properties will be vacated soon.

“We’re developing a database of the available properties in Morris Park,” said Bobby Ruggiero, president of the Morris Park Alliance. “It will certainly add another layer for what we can do.”

The initial meeting was organized by Senator Jeff Klein, who began working with local business leaders to bring a large retail chain to a large vacant site on Westchester Square.

“This is part of an ongoing project to increase the economic diversity and foot traffic of the area,” Klein said. “The first step in those efforts was to bring a bank to Van Nest. Now that project is moving forward, I am working with local merchants in Westchester Square, Morris Park, and Throggs Neck to keep their progress moving.”

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