Bronx BP salutes successful year in business

A year after Bronx businesses gathered for their first summit, business leaders gathered again to celebrate a year of growth and job stimulation.

Hundreds of business leaders gathered for the first Annual Salute to Bronx Business, hosted by the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, on Wednesday, December 22. The keynote speaker, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., lauded Bronx companies that were able to grow during the tough economic climate this year.

“When I took the helm, I wanted to face the biggest issues, like poverty business, and I felt the summit was the first thing we needed to do,” Diaz said. “Because of our summit, many of you are doing amazingly.”

Diaz spoke about the highlights of the business year. Among other things, he mentioned the progress of the proposed Westchester Square Business Improvement District, and Jetro Cash & Carry’s decision to expand into a large facility in Hunts Point. Jetro is a leading supplier of bodegas and grocery stores, and the multi-million dollar Hunts Point investment is expected to create more than 60 new jobs when the facility opens in 2012.

Ten major businesses and organizations were highlighted and recognized for their successes this year.

Clarence Stanley and the Bronx Small Business Development Corporation were the first to be recognized. Since starting 10 years ago, the group has helped more than 13,500 small businesses invest more than $107 million in the local economy, which allowed more than 5,000 jobs to be saved or created.

Maria Rios, of Classico Building Maintenance, was recognize for overseeing the business as it tripled to more than 100 employees in nine years.

CTG Athletics owner, Jorge Molina, was recognized for his successful business. Molina, who recently received a $187,000 loan for expansion, is the only minority-owned sports equipment manufacturing company to sell to Major League Baseball and Modell’s Sporting Goods.

“One day you’re going to be bigger than Olympia,” Diaz said.

Vegan snacks company, E.Din Naturals, was recognized for its unique business, as well as the Gourmet Guru, which is leading the nation in the organic fast food industry.

Melita Corporation, a family-owned wholesale bakery; Zaro’s New York Bakery, which has more than 150 Bronx employees, and Mike’s Deli, the famed family-owned deli and grocery on Arthur Avenue, were also recognized for their historied accomplishments.

Clothing store, VIM, was recognized for recently opening a 100,000-square foot distribution center in Zerega; and Westchester Square Plumbing Co. was recognized for using a $90,000 BOEDC loan to purchase green technology, such as a hybrid car and solar panels.

The success of many of the businesses was due in large part to the successful year of the BOEDC, which lent a record amount of money to Bronx companies. Over the fiscal year 2010, the BOEDC lent out more than $10.7 million, leveraging about $30 million for Bronx businesses.

“When the banks were not being responsive, we were able to provide,” Marlene Cintron, president of the BOEDC said. “We were able to put $30 million into the streets this year. You keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll keep doing what we do.”

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