Musicians perform at the "We Are Melrose" Community FestivalMusicians perform at the "We Are Melrose" Community Festival in 2023. Mott Haven Herald.

Bronx-based businesses and organizations have come up with 50 ways to improve the borough’s economic equity – and hopefully bring it in line with more prosperous parts of New York City.

The Center for an Urban Future, a progressive policy think tank, recently gathered the ideas for a “stronger and more equitable Bronx” in a 36-page report. Many of the ideas are directly relevant to the South Bronx and would have a significant impact on the neighborhood.

Local businesses and organizations share ways to improve economic equity across the borough

The Bronx lags behind the other boroughs in categories such as income, college application and acceptance rates, food security, health and many more, according to Center for an Urban Future. The “50 Ideas” submitted by community organizations and business groups focus on improving equitable investment, which the think tank says are key to developing the borough.

Here are some of proposals by South Bronx groups highlighted in the report:

The Knowledge House, based in Mott Haven, highlighted the fact that 40% of Bronx residents do not have access to high-speed internet connection. The organization said City Hall should develop a “digital inclusion plan” to expand access to internet access, increase digital literacy and train people who want to work in tech.

The Point CDC says it wants to see ideas taken from the grassroots Bronx-wide economic development plan put into effect. That plan includes projects like repurposing golf courses for farms, creating a new people’s credit union, implementing a free Wi-Fi network in Hunts Point, and creating an organization to support legacy marijuana dealers who want to start legal cannabis businesses.

WHEDco, with offices in Morrisania and Soundview, said increasing access to bank accounts would improve people’s financial independence. Around a fifth of Bronx residents did not have bank accounts in 2017 — a rate double the city average.

Soundview-based Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice suggested the creation of more “edible forests” to combat food insecurity, defined as insufficient food, or food of an adequate quality, to meet basic nutritional needs. Around 36% of Bronx residents experience food insecurity, according to the Center for an Urban Future. Currently the Bronx has one edible forest in Hunts Point’s Concrete Plant Park.

South Bronx Unite said the implementation of its Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront plan would increase the quality of life for people in the area by creating green spaces along the river. This would provide more than 100,000 people with access to the waterfront and improve air quality, the organization said.

Phipps Houses said investing in training programs for Bronx residents would help them find good-paying jobs and qualify for wage increases.

Loving the Bronx said capping the Bronx Expressway would mitigate the high asthma rates in the area by reducing air pollution. Capping would create a deck over the highway covered with green spaces. The cap would also reduce noise pollution, the group said.

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce said the city should create a program to promote hands-on work experience for middle and high school students. They also want there to be mandates on local hiring for Bronx businesses and a pipeline for government jobs.

South Bronx Rising Together said it supports a “Very Important Bronx Kids” card which would provide children from the Bronx free transport and free entry to NYC’s museums and cultural institutions. This would promote educational success by offering enrichment outside of school, the organization said. The group also says improved school protection and new educational programs would encourage students to spend their free time in school buildings, even on weekends, calling for at least one police officer at every public school, a metal detector at every entrance and training programs to teach staff and students how to act in an emergency.

Bronx Native, a Port Morris based clothing company, said a mandatory college prep course for public high school students would increase college enrollment rates.

BronxWorks called for an increase in the city’s minimum wage to help people build wealth and move out of poverty.

Hostos Community College said year-long stipends for Bronx-based CUNY college students working internships would help students who have to work their way through school.

Per Scholas, based in Port Morris, said the City Council could provide stipends for Bronx residents who are enlisted in full-time skill training programs. This would accelerate graduation and hiring from these programs, which would create a fivefold return for the city on money spent on stipends, the group said.

The International Salsa Museum said the city could promote more cultural institutions in the Bronx by simplifying the process for applying to government grants and creating clearer guidelines for aspiring applicants.

The report was supported by a grant from The Bronx Community Foundation.

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