Even with the impeachment hearings in Washington, D.C, Brooklyn Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) last Thursday hastened back to Brooklyn to host a district town hall at Medgar Evers College (MEC) aimed at highlighting the impact of small businesses in the borough.
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, touched on the challenges that small businesses are facing and what beneficial resources are available to support business owners.
The town hall was moderated by Prof. Jasmine Young, MBA, and included the following panelists: Mark Caserta (Park Slope 5th Ave BID), Lauren Collis (Church Ave BID), Evan Franco (North Flatbush BID), Andrew Hamilton (National Black MBA), Veronica Harris (Brooklyn Chambers of Commerce) and DeShaun Mars (NYC Small Business Services).
“This town hall is all about my constituents – sharing information and resources so individuals and families living in Central Brooklyn are informed and able to thrive,” Clarke said. “Small businesses are one of the many pillars that make New York’s 9th Congressional District so unique.
“That is why I wanted to make a point in hosting tonight’s town hall to provide beneficial information regarding resources available for small businesses right here in Brooklyn,” she added.
As a former member of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Small Business, Clarke said she continues to fight for the rights and opportunities of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
“Throughout my entire career in public service, I have fought for fairness, justice and equity for small business owners,” she said. “I have introduced several bills that aimed to strengthen and protect the market for small businesses, such as, H.R. 7087, a piece of legislation I am very proud of that amends the Small Business Act to establish a mentorship program designed to help minority and women-owned small businesses build their capacities and access to contracting opportunities in the construction industry.”
The congresswoman and the panelists also emphasized the local challenges that have severe effects on small business owners, in particular property tax increases and commercial storefront vacancies.
“I understand small business are facing many challenges in the community – issues like property tax increases that have quietly become a much larger burden on Brooklyn’s small businesses over the past decade, or the issue of commercial storefront vacancies,” she said.
“For years, landlords are suspected of keeping storefronts vacant until they are able to be filled by large corporations or until the neighborhood is rezoned,” Clarke added. “These are issues that have severe effects on the small business market in Brooklyn.
“It is crucial that we continue to defend and encourage entrepreneurship,” she urged. “Small businesses in the district are capable of flourishing in the community and we continue to support them.”
Clarke warned that “when small businesses are not looked after, we all suffer,” stating that she has strongly supported legislation to foster economic growth and stability in the district.