Here's the editorial that ran in last week's Bronx Press.
From Hunts Point to Riverdale, the Bronx is booming.
Not in a long recent memory has the Bronx seen such a positive economic outlook. While high unemployment still looms over the borough, for once there is light at the end of the tunnel. Light in the form of new businesses, new jobs and the end to a stereotype that haunts Bronxites whenever they leave the city.
Credit for this change can be given to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the economic arm of his office, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp (BOEDC), led by Marlene Cintron.
Since 2009, BOEDC’s Bronx Business Initiative Corp. has provided dozens of loans to both corporation-owned and family-owned Bronx businesses, totaling over $32 million. Through advances in green infrastructure, the borough is making developments towards a more healthy and affordable urban lifestyle.
Smith Electric Vehicles recently announced they’re opening their second U.S. branch in the South Bronx, which will lead to over 100 new jobs and show that the city is serious about creating green jobs at the same rate California does. Not only will this supply jobs to the borough, but also it will give the Bronx the reputation that the Bronx is the place for green companies to invest in.
The department store Macy’s is adding a location to the Bronx in the expansion of the Bay Plaza Shopping Center, to be completed by 2014. The Target at 225th Street holds the reputation of being the most successful branch in the nation, and the BJ’s Wholesale Club in the Gateway Center is in the top five. The Bronx saw a 3.8 percent increase in the amount of chain stores from last year, trailing only Queens at a 5.8 percent growth. The amount of chain stores in Manhattan decreased by 2.1 percent.
The Bronx is no longer burning, but in fact, is just on fire.
For the first time in a long time, there is positive movement in the borough. By this time next year, we could be celebrating a groundbreaking at the 230th Street Broadway shopping center, considered by the city to be one the last great commercial development opportunities available. Seven blocks north, the Stella D’oro factory is to be developed into a shopping center as well.
It’s always been too convenient to drive to Westchester or take the train into Manhattan when shopping. Soon, the convenience will be to stay in the Bronx.
After many years of disappointment, false starts and broken promises, things are finally getting done, and it’s not time to let up. Diaz and Cintron need to continue to find ways to entice businesses to come to the borough.
Savor the Bronx!, also known as Restaurant Week, was a great start. It was able to show city residents what Bronxites have known for years: the Bronx has an eclectic array of food, and Arthur Avenue is the true Little Italy. Foodies from all over flocked to the borough and spent their hard-earned money here.
We’d be hard-pressed not to mention the simple fact that businesses are beginning to piggyback on the borough’s namesake as a marketing ploy.
Two bubbling startups, Bronx Brewery and Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company, are hoping that using the borough’s reputation will lead to success, much like Brooklyn Brewery has done over the past two decades. The biggest honor may however by Bronx Toys, a Long Island toy company that is using the Bronx name to parlay themselves into “a quintessentially New York brand,” according to their website.
Would this have happened even ten years ago? Of course not. And there is still work to be done. The Bronx still holds a sour reputation in the eyes of the rest of the country. As Diaz often says, he’s sick of being first in everything bad, and last in everything good.
As Bronxites continue to oust leaders who do not lead from their foxholes they call political office, and put in people of action such as Diaz, the Bronx will rise above the negativity that has haunted it for half a century.