As the state slowly is taking steps to return to normalcy, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of a task force this week that will help with the process.
On April 28, Cuomo outlined additional guidelines for the phased plan to reopen New York on a regional basis. Each region of the state, Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Long Island, Southern Tier and Western New York must follow these rules as part of the reopening plan.
The advisory board will be chaired by former secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow and includes more than 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state. He selected just two people from the Bronx, Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Lourdes Zapata, president and CEO at South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
“We’ve come up with a phased plan to reopen New York so every region in the state has the same opening template as we begin this process,” Cuomo said. “We have to be smart about this. Emotions can’t drive our reopening process. We’ve come up with factual data points that each region must monitor as they begin to reopen.”
Sorin spoke to the Bronx Times about being selected amongst such prestigious people. She has not been informed of a date of when the economy will reopen, but knows things will not be easy when it happens.
While it is her goal to make the transition smooth and painless, she doesn’t know what the future holds.
According to Sorin, businesses are hurting in the Bronx. She fears that when the dust settles, the landscape of the borough will be forever changed. Far too often the Bronx is forgotten and left behind, hopefully, now it can recover and flourish, she said.
“I was incredibly honored that the Bronx Chamber was selected,” Sorin said. “My fight has always been that the Bronx doesn’t have a voice at the table. We have to figure out a way to put our voices together.”
She is still awaiting word from the state about what the next steps are, but is ready to hit the ground running and work with her task force colleagues.
Sorin noted that the Bronx has a high undocumented immigrant population who were not helped by the federal government stimulus packages and the small businesses only received one percent of the city Small Business Service loans and grants.
These numbers paint a bleak picture, she said.
“I expect that large percent of our businesses will be closed and not be able to reopen,” she commented. “I’m terrified to see what happens when things reopen.”