‘Queens Small Business Comeback Night’ Saw Special Guests, Mets Owner Steve Cohen and NYCEDC Board Chair, Restaurateur Danny Meyer
(Queens, NY) – The New York Mets in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) held a special ceremony to recognize small businesses in Queens, ahead of Tuesday night’s New York Mets game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. The Mets extended hundreds of complimentary tickets to small businesses who received grant funding through NYCEDC’s Queens Small Business Grant Program, which provided vital resources to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the ‘Queens Small Business Comeback Night’ the Mets and those in attendance recognized the success of the grant program, which dispersed $14 million to 755 small businesses and street vendors, with 90 percent of grants going to minority and women-owned businesses. The program was launched in January by NYCEDC in partnership with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and business lender Pursuit. It was made possible by the generous donation of $17.5 million from Steve and Alexandra Cohen.
New York Mets Owner Steve Cohen said, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of any local economy, and that’s especially true in Queens. Alex and I were glad to see that the funds were distributed quickly and into the right hands, especially to minority- and women-owned businesses. We’re proud to be part of this diverse community, and we look forward to seeing these businesses thrive.”
“We can’t thank Steve Cohen enough for his generosity. Through this partnership, NYCEDC was able to offer a vital lifeline to small businesses in Queens who may have had to otherwise close their doors for good,” said NYCEDC Board Chair and Restaurateur Danny Meyer. “We thank the New York Mets for celebrating this important grant program and our small businesses.”
“My office was honored to launch the Queens Small Business Grant Program and help provide a critical financial lifeline to more than 750 borough small businesses, many of which are minority-owned, facing unprecedented uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “We could not be more thrilled by the success of this program, developed in proud partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation, Pursuit, Steve and Alexandra Cohen and others. Thank you to our hometown New York Mets for recognizing this initiative and the incredible small businesses it assisted.”
Pursuit President Steven R. Cohen said, “Small businesses are resilient. Nowhere is this more true than in the vibrant and diverse borough of Queens. This event was about celebrating those small businesses and thanking them for their contributions to the community in the form of jobs, revenue and essential services. We are grateful to Steve and Alexandra for their support of the Queens Small Business Grant Program, and to NYCEDC and the program’s partner organizations for their work in delivering essential funding to local businesses.”
“At Ascendus, we believe in the power of up, and for over thirty years, we’ve provided over 24,000 small business owners—primarily BIPOC, women, and immigrants—with the tools to move up, improve their lives, care for their families, and contribute to their communities. One such tool was the small business grant that was generously funded by Steve and Alexandra Cohen. These life-changing grants were part of the bedrock that has enabled the economic comeback of Queens small businesses,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Ascendus.
“Because a vital part of our mission is to serve immigrants and refugees, we have a large and growing client base in Queens, the borough hardest hit in the beginning of the pandemic. We are therefore incredibly grateful to the Steve and Alexandra, whose generosity enabled us to help over 100 of our clients in Queens, many of whose micro and small businesses would not have been able to reopen if it hadn’t been for the lifeline the grant provided,” said Yanki Tshering, Executive Director of Accompany Capital.
“Renaissance has been assisting minority immigrant entrepreneurs for nearly 25 years in NYC with technical assistance and small business loans. When the pandemic struck our communities, many of our small business owners feared the worst, facing the prospect of shuttering their businesses and endangering their livelihoods. Thanks to Steve and Alexandra Cohen’s donation, the Queens Small Business Grant and the partnership with NYCEDC, our immigrant owned businesses had a chance to keep their doors open during this challenging time. This grant has kept our Queens community alive and thriving again,” said Jessie Lee, Managing Director of Renaissance Economic Development Corp.
“While we are still in the midst of a pandemic that has crippled economies around the globe, there is cause to celebrate the efforts of our small businesses and economic leaders who have taken aggressive actions to stay afloat,” said Hope Knight, president and CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, the economic development entity for much of southeast Queens. “NYCEDC has always been an unwavering partner in the borough’s overall economic growth and the Queens Small Business Grant Program provided crucial supplemental support on a community level in addition to federal programs that may or may not have been accessible by some business owners. Thanks to Steve and Alexandra Cohen for their generosity of providing funding for the program, and thanks to the New York Mets for taking businesses out to the ballgame for a night of fun and relaxation. Though we’re not out of the woods yet, good work is being done by those who have stepped up in this unprecedented time of need.”
“It has been a difficult year and a half for small businesses here in Queens, but throughout the pandemic we have seen firsthand so many remarkable stories of resilience,”said Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Our local businesses have worked harder than ever to stay afloat, giving each other a helping hand, when need be, and serving their communities in inspiring ways. We are incredibly thankful to Steve and Alexandra Cohen for going above and beyond to support Queens’ small business community, and grateful to partner with the Office of the Queens Borough President and NYCEDC for the Queens Small Business Grant Program. This will ensure that cherished local institutions can stay open and continue employing Queens residents, serving our communities, and adding character to the neighborhoods we all know and love.”
Through the Queens Small Business Grant Program, small businesses, and vendors with 20 or fewer employees were able to receive up to $20,000 for operation expenses. The grant program aimed to support minority-owned small businesses, small businesses in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods, and those hardest hit by the pandemic. Pursuit worked with several local community organizations to administer the program and expand its reach and impact, including Accompany Capital, Ascendus, BOC Capital, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Renaissance EDC, and Queens Chamber of Commerce.
Ascendus is a nonprofit small business lender working to create economic opportunity by providing entrepreneurs with access to the capital and the business support they need to create and grow healthy enterprises and contribute to thriving local economies. Since 1991, Ascendus has provided more than $200 million to 25,000 small businesses owners across the country.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, non-profit organization that creates shared prosperity across New York City by strengthening neighborhoods and growing good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and invests in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.