A prominent Throggs Neck merchant and former elected official is now also a “chairman of the board.”
Former city councilman, state assemblyman and attorney Steve Kaufman has now been elected chairman of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
The not-for-proft founded in 1981, is an affiliate of the borough president’s office charged with economic development and providing low-cost-loans and other assistance for borough businesses.
Kaufman said he believes that the borough is poised for strong economic growth as Brooklyn and Queens become more and more unaffordable for businesses.
He feels that the breakneck growth in the city and investment in the borough will inevitably lead to more jobs for Bronx residents, and said that BOEDC can help with employee training.
“I think if you are watching trends, Brooklyn and Queens are now overpriced, and the Bronx is starting to become the area of choice,” he said. “It is incumbent upon us in our goal of revitalizing the Bronx and creating jobs for our residents, that we make a hospitable environment for businesses to want to locate here, and also for middle and upper-middle class people to move here.”
Among BOEDC’s great strengths, he said, is that it is helpful in cutting through government “entanglements” in red tape and is one of two local administrators for a Small Business Administration 504 low-interest loan program.
Kaufman noted much of the economic development that has already taken place, including the new Trump Golf Course at Ferry Point Park, as well as new shopping centers opening in the Throggs Neck area and in Riverdale. He also cited the new outlet mall coming to the former Whitestone Cinemas in Throggs Neck, calling the construction boom “an explosion of malls.”
Oftentimes when a chain store does decide to locate in the Bronx, he said, it turns into one of that chain’s busiest stores.
“These malls enable people to not have to leave the borough to shop for brand name items,” said Kaufman.
He added that malls have inherit advantages such as parking, but that more can be done to help small mom-and-pop commercial strips to survive and thrive in a competitive environment.
The very active Bronx Tourism Council, along with BOEDC, wants to re-brand the borough as one that is open for tourism and the Bronx, he said.
The Throggs Neck golf course is a prime example, he said, because they took 300 acres of what had been a waste dump and turned it into a first class golf course capable of holding major sports events.
When asked if the new business activity would change the atmosphere in the borough, Kaufman said that people should not be afraid of the unknown.
“People should not be afraid of prosperity, they shouldn’t be afraid of development,” he noted.
“They should not block good things from happening.”