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Photo: Facebook/Mayor Bill de Blasio
Photo: Facebook/Mayor Bill de Blasio

Small businesses in Jamaica now have the opportunity to upgrade their storefronts and learn how to avoid fines with help from the city.

On Tuesday, July 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced the launch of two new initiatives that will help small businesses increase foot traffic and avoid costly fines.

As a part of the ongoing $153 million Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a new storefront improvement program has put in place that will provide $20,000 grants to dozens of businesses in Jamaica to upgrade signs and window displays through the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). The announcement came as part of de Blasio’s “City Hall in Your Borough” week in Queens.

“SBS’ new storefront improvement program is a critical component and latest deliverable of the holistic and comprehensive Jamaica NOW Action Plan, currently underway for the community-driven revitalization and smart growth of Downtown Jamaica,” Katz said. “This is a concerted, strategic investment on the part of the city toward uplifting the commercial corridor and will go a long way toward making the area even more attractive to residents, businesses and investors.”

The new Jamaica storefront improvement program is currently accepting applications for the next nine weeks, with additional applications to be accepted on a rolling basis. Small businesses can secure up to $20,000 to make storefront improvements and the funding will reimburse up to 75 percent of the cost of the enhancements.

The program plans to invest $500,000 in total (funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation) into the neighborhood and will reach 30 local businesses.

De Blasio also unveiled the DCA’s new Visiting Inspector Program (VIP). The program will offer new brick-and-mortar DCA licenses each year with a free educational inspection that will help them understand DCA laws that apply to their business, including licensing laws, the city’s Consumer Protection Law, and workplace laws like the city’s Paid Sick Leave Law, so they can avoid being fined in the future.

Businesses that get their DCA brick-and-mortar license can schedule their free educational inspection within three months of receiving their license. The inspection will be offered in the language of the business’s choosing.

“We’re working with small businesses boost sales, lower costs and employ more people,” said de Blasio. “The city is reducing fines, increasing compliance, and investing in brick-and-mortar storefronts. Vibrant commercial hubs like downtown Jamaica are made possible by the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners, and we’ll support them with innovative city programs.”

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