Organizers say rioting and looting put a damper on Bronx Business Forum

The flyer promoting the forum.
Courtesy of Bronx Business Forum

As carnage tore through Fordham Road, Burnside Avenue and other parts of the Bronx this week, many might wonder what stores are able to reopen once the economy returns.

Prior to these criminal acts taking place, several Bronx organizations participated in The Bronx Business Forum May 27, where it focused on reopening post COVID-19.

Lisa Sorin, director of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Michael Brady, director of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District hosted the program. Sorin said it went well, but is worried about how the rioting will affect the stores.

“How sad what took place,” she said. “It makes me angry. Right now the vision of the Bronx instead of a rising borough is now fallen into the likes of looting and violence. But, we’re not losing tack and I’m not losing faith.”

The program highlighted the services available to small businesses by the New York City Department of Small Business Services (NYCSBS), the Bronx business improvement district network and local community-based organizations and lending institutions.

It included remarks from business organizations, keynote remarks from Small Business Commissioner Jonnel Doris, New York City Department of Small Business Services, and Q&As from the Bronx delegation of elected officials and small businesses.

According to Sorin, having an event like this was crucial to the revival of the economy in the borough. Many in the Bronx already struggle financially and when the city only doled out 1 percent of the small business loans to the Bronx it was a slap in the face.

“This was really about having a borough wide conversation,” she said. “We want the city to alleviate some burden on our businesses.”

Sorin noted that just because the Bronx is not fancy Manhattan with Wall Street, it does not mean it should be neglected. She questioned the fact that only 1 percent of the businesses received help from small business loans.

According to Sorin, many of these mom and pop stores don’t know how to properly navigate the internet or where to look for SBS assistance. She stressed that people need help with this and for those who are not skilled with technology, should be contacted by phone.

“I think the message remains the same,” she said. “It always goes back to the level of communication that we have.”

During the forum they suggested to the commissioner that in order for small businesses to survive, the city needs to stop giving them violations for every little thing.

Like Sorin, Brady feels the rioting was detrimental to the community and benefited no one.

“The movement last week we talked about reopening,” he said. “Now we’re talking about businesses being burnt down.”

On a more positive note, he felt the forum was a nice way for the commissioner to introduce himself and get acquainted with the small business community in the Bronx.

Brady hopes Doris and the business can work together to successfully reopen.

“More and more we are seeing people not leading,” he said. “We need leadership right now.”

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