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LISC NYC recognizes the crucial role of commercial corridors in building healthy, vibrant communities, particularly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods: they are not just places where local residents shop and gather, but places where people build wealth through small businesses, find jobs, and share, celebrate and preserve community culture.
For this reason, LISC NYC builds the capacity of community-based partners to revitalize commercial districts by enabling existing business owners to remain competitive, and new local entrepreneurs to get established in low-and-moderate income communities.
The Commercial Corridor Challenge is a partnership of LISC NYC, Citi Community Development, and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to strengthen and revitalize the streets, small businesses, and community-based organizations that anchor New York City neighborhoods.
In the first round of the Corridor Challenge launched in 2016 and funded by Citi Community Development and LISC, three community partners participating in SBS’s Neighborhood 360° program were selected to receive additional financial and technical assistance to carry out “early-action” projects that boosted the visibility, promotion and safety of targeted corridors in low-income neighborhoods. These projects, which were completed in summer 2018, demonstrated how relatively modest investments in targeted areas can have rapid, catalytic impacts on local businesses’ vitality and sales, especially when they address customer-focused needs such as cleanliness and safety. The Corridor Challenge also helped build the capacity of community partners to spur commercial districts to improve, thrive, and grow. In each neighborhood, the foundation of the work was a Commercial District Needs Assessment (CDNA), a tool provided to SBS by LISC and its expert consultant Larisa Ortiz to diagnose corridor needs and define strategic, market-based investment strategies informed by community perspectives.
A second round of the program, the Commercial Corridor Challenge 2.0, has been generously funded by Citi Community Development and is launched in summer 2019. Corridor Challenge 2.0 will codify and elevate learnings across the field of community development and will provide small grants and technical assistance to select SBS grantees in order to advance these learnings in multiple corridors. In addition to providing targeted grant funding and technical assistance for early action projects in three to five NYC neighborhoods, LISC will build a resource hub on its website to assist community organizations to plan and implement catalytic corridor improvements throughout New York City and other parts of the country.