Israel Velez (l), owner of City Tamale.

Eight Bronxites to advise mayor on small business reopenings

Eight Bronx business leaders have been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve on a small business council that will advise him on strategies and timing for the gradual reopening of city businesses as Covid cases continue to decline.

Israel Velez of City Tamale and Jeffery Garcia of Mon Amour Coffee and Wine in Riverdale, and president of the NYS Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association, will represent the small restaurant segment of the city’s economy, which has been devastated by stay-in-place orders during the pandemic.

Other Bronxites on the advisory panel are:  Noelle Santos of the Lit Bar, Anthony and Paul Ramirez, co-owners of the Bronx Beer Hall, Paul Storch of Summit Appliance, and Ramona Mejia, president of Sell-Mar Enterprise.

Lourdes Zapata of the economic development nonprofit SOBRO and Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, will represent Bronx business and development organizations.

Bronx small businesses have faced an uphill battle in trying to access both city and federal Covid-19 assistance to keep their doors open and employees on board.  A recent Gothamist article reported that Bronx businesses have received less than $80,000 out of $20 million in loans made available through the city.

The Bronxites are among 31 business leaders from across the city appointed by de Blasio to serve on the small business advisory council.  It is one of 10 advisory councils created by the mayor to represent various sectors of city life.

De Blasio said at a news conference that all of the advisory councils are expected to meet for the first time next week.

“For us to have a strong restart and get to the recovery New Yorkers deserve, we have to do this the smart way. These sector advisory councils will provide the insight we need to successfully open our city back up and protect our people,” he said.

Other sector councils named by the mayor are: Labor and Workforce; Large Business; Arts, Culture and Tourism; Nonprofit and Social Services; Public Health and Healthcare; Faith-based; Education; Construction and Real Estate; and Suface Transportation.   Representatives appointed to all advisory councils can be found here and here.

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