In his new role as the executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID), John Perricone said he and his team will do whatever they can to assist small business owners, keeping their streets safe and clean and creating a vibrant commercial district that is vital not only for Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven, but for the entire city.
Perricone assumed the role of Woodhaven BID executive director on Dec. 27. He succeeds Raquel Olivares, who is the former BID director and is now an assistant commissioner at the Small Business Service’s Neighborhood Development Division. In his vision for the BID going forward, Perricone wants to make sure that business owners within the community know exactly what the Woodhaven BID does, which is providing supplemental services that every business owner should be taking advantage of, he said.
“Having constant and clear communication to our business owners is vital, and when it comes to putting together outreach and different events that can increase patronization of those businesses is really important,” Perricone said. “It’s also making sure that people who live in Woodhaven and frequent Jamaica Avenue regularly are patronizing local small businesses, and attracting people from outside Woodhaven to let them know we are a vibrant district with diverse businesses that can cater to their needs.”
Perricone, who was born and raised in Ridgewood, said he always held a high view of small business owners, understanding that they have a lot on their plate when it comes to operating their businesses on a daily basis. It’s something that he experienced at the age of 16 during his first part-time job working at a deli seeing firsthand how difficult it was for a business owner to be successful in the amount of hours they put in, he said.
He also realized how important it was for a community to have prosperous small businesses.
“I believe small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and we should be doing whatever we can to provide resources for them to be successful,” Perricone said. “I feel like we will all be better when small businesses do better, and that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to get more involved with advocating for small businesses.”
Perricone’s background in civic engagement and public service began at a young age. He recalled his parents taking him to a community board and civic meetings to advocate for a new state-of-the-art rink for his local hockey league.
“That really opened my eyes to civic involvement and community engagement,” Perricone said.
Perricone has served as president of the 104th Precinct Community Council, and he was a member of the now defunct Citizens for a Better Ridgewood. He is also a member of the Order of the Sons of Italy, an organization that preserves and promotes the culture of Italian Americans.
Perricone’s extensive experience in city government, specifically in the area of economic development, gave him the opportunity to work with community partners, private and nonprofit organizations to improve economic development in Queens’ neighborhoods.
While attending college, Perricone volunteered for his local civic organization and became a constituent liaison for then-Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan gaining professional experience in government. In his last semester at Queens College for his master’s in urban studies, Perricone was offered a job with the Queens Borough President’s Office, where he took on responsibilities across departments during his eight-year tenure.
Perricone served as a community board liaison gaining a perspective on different neighborhoods and communities within Queens. In his role as a special assistant for economic development, Perricone coordinated with city agencies and small businesses making sure they received the necessary resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Perricone coordinated the Queens Small Business Grant program that provided over 750 businesses with grants of up to $20,000 to help with payroll, among other things. He was also a veterans’ liaison.
According to Perricone, his time at the Queens Borough President’s Office helped prepare him for his role at the Woodhaven BID.
“There’s so many things to love about Woodhaven, such as the fact that it’s a small, close-knit neighborhood with longstanding family-owned businesses adding to the culture and feel of Jamaica Avenue,” Perricone said. “I think it really bodes well for what we are trying to do for the BID. We have really great relationships with our civics and community groups, and even if it may not be Woodhaven, it seems like people who live in the community and the surrounding communities have a vested interest in what’s going on at Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven as a whole.”
Before he joined the Woodhaven BID, Perricone said the organization was instrumental in putting together a commercial district assessment outlining business owners’ needs and what they would like to see more of.
A major concern for business owners is public safety, Perricone said.
“Addressing our public safety concerns is definitely something that we are going to be doing immediately,” Perricone said. “We want to work closely with law enforcement and the precinct to strengthen our relationship in that regard and provide business owners and patrons with a sense of security while shopping.”
Perricone says he is also looking to utilize the BID’s office space, located at 88-07 Jamaica Ave., for future events in the pipeline.