The first step in Nassau County’s new program to boost downtown business took place at the intersection of Cedarhurst and Central avenues in Cedarhurst as County Executive Laura Curran presented the owners of Tassel Children’s Shoes with a facsimile $10,000 check on Aug. 12.
Tassel store owners, husband and wife Aaron and Tzipora Shapiro, are the first recipients of what is called the Main Street Recovery Grant as part of the county’s new Small Business Technical Assistance and Planning program. The program uses $1.5 million of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan to offer grants to academic institutions, businesses, business support organizations, chambers of commerce and nonprofit institutions and is part of Nassau’s array of economic recovery initiatives.
Open for the past five years, Tassel Children’s Shoes, at 92 Carman Ave. in Cedarhurst, like many businesses at the height of the coronavirus pandemic had to close in March 2020, and then reopened a few months later as the Covid restrictions were lifted in phases.
“We reopened as soon as we could and business has been good,” Aaron told the Herald as he stood with Tzipora and Curran at the Cedarhurst corner. “We will use the money for inventory, payroll.”
Ensuring that a broad spectrum of support services are available to local businesses that suffered revenue losses during the pandemic is the Small Business Technical Assistance and Planning program’s aim. Along with the money, services include planning, promotional activities and technical assistance.
Curran noted the input of the organizations and institutions that have worked with the county to aid businesses in Nassau throughout the pandemic, including Hofstra University, the Long Island Association, the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce and Vision Long Island. She said they have assisted to marshal resources, help businesses adapt, pivot and remain afloat.
“In many cases the county has used their input to provide targeted support and advocacy, so that includes advocating the state for smart reopening, including free PPE kits, loan programs and our highly successful restaurant recovery program,” Curran said, adding that roughly 250 restaurants received a total of nearly $2 million in grants.
She noted that Nassau’s downtowns are “bustling,” as Curran said she and other officials were in Farmingdale on Aug. 11 and pointed to the amount of traffic – pedestrian and vehicular – in Cedarhurst as proof that the county, “Is open for business, if you are looking for a job now is the time to get that job,” she said.
Curran underscored the success of Cedarhurst’s Business Improvement District noting that 20 years ago the village’s business district had a vacancy rate of 20 percent and now Deputy Mayor Ari Brown, Cedarhurst’s liaison to the BID said the occupancy rate is just 100 percent.
“We make the effort from putting flowers along Central Avenue to everyone working together,” Brown told the Herald.
Luis Vasquez, the chief executive officer of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, appreciated that his organization and the ethnic group it represents was included in the grant program’s launch. “This is going to help our businesses, Hispanic businesses,” Vasquez said, “it’s a God given because we need it. One of the things that we really suffer in our communities, is that basically we are ignored.”
Long Island Association President Matt Cohen called the program “a shot in the arm” to aid in the economic recovery. Curran said that 66 cents of every dollar spent in a community benefits that community.
To apply for the Small Business Technical Assistance and Planning program, call (516) 572-2888 or go to Nassau County’s Boost Nassau portal at www.nassaucountyny.gov/boostnassau.