By Bill Parry
The 82nd Street Partnership has a new leader to guide the Jackson Heights Business Improvement District through its controversial and divisive proposed expansion into Corona. .
Leslie Ramos, 43, a longtime member of the Bloomberg administration, replaces Seth Taylor as the executive director of the BID following a two-month nationwide search.
“It’s an honor to join the 82nd Street Partnership,” Ramos said. “To work within such a multicultural and booming community in Jackson Heights is an exciting opportunity. I look forward to continue strengthening the 82nd Street business enclave, which represents the entrepreneurial spirit and diversity of our city.”
Ramos was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico and has extensive experience working with small businesses, city agencies and the Latino community.
“The board is excited to have Leslie on as the new director,” Board President John Rapp said. “Her background and experience is impressive, and we look forward to working with her in addressing neighborhood issues.”
Ramos began her career at the city Office of Management and Budget, where she was in charge of overseeing all agencies responsible for the economic prosperity of the city, including the Department of Small Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of City Planning.
“I had a pretty big portfolio — we oversaw all capital projects,” Ramos said. “Every BID proposal in the city crossed my desk before going on to the agencies.”
She went on to serve as executive director of the mayor’s Office for Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, where she was responsible for attracting and retaining industrial and manufacturing businesses. Ramos was also the assistant commissioner for finance at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she oversaw a $580 million operating budget and $7.5 billion, 10-year capital plan, which included construction and preservation of 165,000 housing units.
“Ms. Ramos brings strong leadership and understanding of business, community and government, a perfect combination for the job,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said. “Her hiring is a win for the community, and I am confident in her abilities to properly guide and represent the 82nd Street Partnership.”
Ferreras is a major proponent of the controversial plan to expand the BID down Roosevelt Avenue to 104th Street, including Junction Boulevard to 35th Avenue. At a pair of public hearings in July, protesters called for Taylor’s ouster. He left the 82nd Street Partnership in August to take over Manhattan’s NoHo BID as their executive director.
“I am familiar with what went on here because I did my research,” Ramos said. “It didn’t stop me from applying for the job. I hear both sides and I understand from living in other communities that have undergone gentrification. I understand their concerns.”
Marty Kirchner, an organizer of the expansion opposition group Queens Neighborhoods United, said “BIDs were a favorite tool of the Bloomberg administration to gentrify outer borough neighborhoods. Community members in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona are overwhelmingly opposed to the expansion of the 82nd Street Partnership.”
As a member of the Latina Leadership Forum’s founding committee and a former member of Latina PAC, Ramos believes she can connect with her new community.
“I just walked up Roosevelt Avenue and I can see people putting their livelihoods on the line,” she said. “I’m open to talking to anyone in this community and discussing the issues. At the end of the day we all want the same thing: we want businesses to grow and prosper. In addition, we can create a vision where we serve the Latino community and help them maintain their identity. We can be an anchor for all ethnic groups.”