by DANA FAISON &
KEITH MILLER, JR.
HOW TO BES UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITY OF THE ROOSEVELT BUSINESS DISTRICT
For many, barbershops are considered a home away from home and are the quintessential safe space for individuals to let their guard down where no discussion is off-topic. Many say they’ve learned many valuable life lessons at their neighborhood barbershop. “For over 70 years has been that place of the nostalgia,” explains Woody, an employee at Harold’s Barbershop. “We offer services you may not find in a modern barbershop.”
With over 100 businesses, Roosevelt is composed of two main business corridors, Nassau Road and Babylon Turnpike. Typical businesses include delis, auto shops, and hair salons. Nassau Road, the more extensive of the two, is home to a higher number of shopping centers and is more consumer-oriented. In contrast, Babylon Turnpike is home to more industrial and wholesale businesses such as a clothing trading company and a wholesale warehouse.
Choice for All conducted a Business Environment Scan (BES), along Babylon Turnpike and Nassau Road to examine the business landscape of the community. The goal was to identify and find solutions for the immediate pressing needs hindering economic growth and development. While conducting the BES, Choice for All spoke with business owners, managers, and employees and a completed a commercial district needs assessment survey for each establishment.
The BES showed that economic development of Roosevelt’s business district displayed few signs of improvement over the last few years. The lack of growth is partially due to the over-saturation of competing businesses. The owner of a small auto shop, along with other local entrepreneurs, indicated he lacked the tools and resources needed to promote his business. Other businesses stated a need for new equipment, safer streets, and rent-controlled storefronts.
The data obtained from the BES will also be used to advocate on behalf of residents to create policies and legislation that address the community’s concerns, especially relating to health. The BES indicated a need for a community recreational center, public spaces for sports and other physical activities, and eateries specializing in healthy cuisine. The shortage is clearly reflected in Roosevelt’s above-average youth and adult obesity rate. Programs have been implemented to educate resident show to make healthy lifestyle choices. A community garden and farmers’ markets in Roosevelt has increased the availability of fresh produce.
A MODERN TALE OF TWO CITIES PROVIDES PRECEDENCE
Roosevelt’s BES results are comparable to a similar BES conducted by the New York Small Business Services in the Jerome Avenue neighborhood of the Bronx. The demographic makeup of the business district is a reflection of its many cultures. The Jerome Avenue BES reported that the business district is family-oriented and has a strong presence of advocacy groups. Topping the list of immediate needs was street safety (especially at night) and cleanliness. As a result, a community corridor beautification/cleaning program was created to aid with trash pick up. A designated "Safe Place Area” was created to address safety concerns. These changes had a positive effect on the local business environment resulting in increased foot traffic, revenue, and growth.
CHOICE FOR ALL LAYING THE GROUNDWORK TO ADDRESS CONCERNS OF THE CONCERNS OF BUSINESS OWNERS
The Roosevelt BES allowed for Choice for All to foster relationships with business owners and residents. Business owners, optimistic for a more prosperous Roosevelt, were eager to share their pressing needs and concerns. In response, Choice for All is in the planning phase of new initiatives to address some of the immediate concerns and plant “seeds” aimed at stimulating growth. These initiative include:
Publishing a Roosevelt Business Directory to highlight local businesses and the services they offer.
“Clean the Street. Walk the Mile”: A cleaning and fitness program designed for businesses and residents to take part in keeping the Roosevelt business landscape clean and stay physically active simultaneously.
“Roosevelt Business Appreciation Day”: An event aimed to introduce Roosevelt businesses and their offerings to the community.
The future of the Roosevelt business district has great potential for growth and the opportunity to shine bright. Residents and business owners alike are eager to welcome health and wellness products and services, new franchises, and increased social services. Combined with job-market growth, these opportunities will improve the community-level socioeconomic status and help build strong community bonds to last for generations to come.