With that thought in mind, Walsh took the reins as commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services with one explicit purpose - to facilitate the creation, growth and strength of the city's neighborhood business communities.
"I found it amazing, a guy who'd just been elected mayor, talking about grassroots efforts," Walsh told the group of Flushing BID members gathered at the Sheraton LaGuardia East last Thursday to discuss the progress of the downtown business improvement district since it began operation in September.
By the end of 2004, 50 BIDs will be established citywide, Walsh said. There are now 46 BIDs in New York, eight of which are in Queens, said Ethan Davidson, a spokesman from the Department of Small Business Services.
Four of the Queens BIDs are in Jamaica on Sutphin Boulevard, 165th Street, Jamaica Center and 180th Street. The remaining BIDs are in Woodhaven, Jackson Heights, Ridgewood and Flushing, Davidson said.
"The key ingredient is to focus on primary services," Walsh said. In Flushing, that focus has been on cleanliness. In the past eight months of the downtown Flushing BID's existence, the organization has contracted with a new sanitation company and increased its number of working hours.
"We have turned the corner here in Flushing," state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing) said. "Things are looking up and things are looking a lot cleaner."
Walsh said that is attributable to the block-by-block attention the BID has devoted to downtown Flushing.
"The No. 1 value of a BID is that it provides a service that cannot otherwise be there," Walsh said.
In Flushing, the BID hung banners last week displaying its global logo and pink tulips to commemorate spring. The group was also responsible for the holiday lighting downtown during the winter months.
The BID announced May 12 it would be lowering the assessment it charges all businesses in the district by 20 percent while still providing all of its services in the area that spans Main Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Kissena Boulevard and 40th and 39th avenues, BID Director Mabel Law said.
"You've done a tremendous job in six months," Walsh said. "Probably the most important role BIDs should play ... is bringing people together exactly as we see here."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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