The Cooper Square Committee (CSC) and the East Village Independent Merchants Association (EVIMA) are happy to announce that the NYC Department of Small Business Services is continuing the second year of a $100,000 Avenue NYC grant to promote and sustain businesses in the East Village commercial district.

“This grant will enable us to have a full time Project Manager organize the East Village merchants, grow and diversify EVIMA’s membership, and work on specific projects to retain and market the unique businesses in our community. We’re thankful to SBS for this opportunity,” said Steve Herrick, CSC Executive Director. The grant is continuing for a second of three total years, and will enable EVIMA to become self-sustaining.

EVIMA was formed in 2013, and became more active after the 2nd Avenue gas explosion in 2015. EVIMA has dozens of member businesses, and its goal is to protect and strengthen independently owned establishments in the historic and culturally rich East Village, bounded by East 14th St. to Houston St. from 4th Avenue to Avenue D. The Cooper Square Committee is a neighborhood preservation organization that works to preserve affordable housing, small businesses and community/cultural spaces through organizing, social services and development programs.

“EVIMA is excited to partner with Cooper Square Committee on the Avenue NYC Grant program,” said EVIMA co-chairperson, Charles Branstool, owner of Exit 9 Gift Emporium on Avenue A. “CSC and EVIMA share similar values and goals that will lead to a stronger and more vibrant neighborhood. Last year EVIMA partnered with the Lower East Side Partnership to conduct a Commercial District Needs Assessment, which will soon be published by SBS. We are eager to build upon this valuable assessment as we launch new projects this year. Viva East Village!” EVIMA founder and President, Jimmy Carbone, added that “EVIMA’s goals include growing our membership, better representing the diversity of businesses in the East Village, and developing as an organization.”

“It is a priority for us to help communities devastated by the pandemic to recover during this time,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “This second round of funding will help revitalize the East Village commercial corridors and bring them back stronger than ever.”

EVIMA and CSC have partnered on the Taste of the East Village festival on East 7th Street for several years, and have co-hosted breakfast meetings and focus groups with small businesses to address issues and share resources. CSC has referred dozens of local merchants to free legal counseling regarding lease issues over the past three years. Last year, CSC worked on an ANHD report called “The Forgotten Tenants: NYC’s Immigrant Small Business Owners” which surveyed over 100 small business owners in several neighborhoods about the challenges they face, and made a set of policy recommendations. These challenges have only intensified amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

“As part of a business retention strategy, we are working with EVIMA members and our NYS elected officials on a plan to reduce the rent burden on small businesses that were forced to shut down temporarily and/or scale back their operations due to Covid-19. Policy interventions are desperately needed to prevent the permanent closure of thousands of businesses across the city,” said Mr. Herrick.

About NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, follow SBS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Avenue NYC
Avenue NYC is a competitive grant program created by the NYC Department of Small Business Services to fund and build the capacity of community-based development organizations to execute commercial revitalization initiatives. Avenue NYC is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, which targets investments in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.