What's Happening This Week in
Downtown Jamaica
Jamaica Avenue: Not Just Surviving…But Thriving!

The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated retail across the city and nation, but downtown Jamaica serves as a beacon of hope as new businesses, independent and national, continue to open on the Avenue.

Most recently we welcomed the long-awaited Target, located in the lower-level of (160-08 Jamaica Avenue), just below Burlington. Here you’ll find a nice selection of groceries (plenty of organics too!), games, cute lamps, general home goods and a new CVS pharmacy.

Just a couple blocks east at the corner of Union Hall and Jamaica Avenue is another newcomer—Jamaican Flavors (162-02 Jamaica Avenue), selling patties, coco bread and some delectable looking desserts (look for the blue awning). Of course our team is eagerly awaiting the opening of Jollibee (skip to our article below to read our detective work regarding what we can expect when the Jamaica Avenue location finally opens).

And, in case you missed the pics a few weeks ago, we’re resharing photos from our BID’s ribbon-cutting parade last month, when we celebrated five new businesses that have opened, survived, and thrived on the Avenue since the start of the pandemic. Our BID, along with several of our elected officials, stopped by Dunkin Donuts (163-18 Jamaica Avenue), Diamond Braces (166-16 Jamaica Avenue), European Wax (166-16 Jamaica Avenue), MA Perfume (165-12 Jamaica Avenue) and Hook and Reel (161-21 Jamaica Avenue), allowing each store owner or manager to cut the ribbon, meet their local representatives and get the warm welcome they deserve, all set to background music by brass band Underground Horns.

You can view coverage of the ribbon-cutting parade here and here and view the photos of the event here. Special thanks to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards from coming out to our special event along with Council Members Adrienne Adams, I. Daneek Miller, and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman.  
Insider Investigation: JBID Staff Scopes out Jollibee!       

As most people who walk the Ave have noticed, the famous Filipino restaurant Jollibee has put up signage and announced they’re coming soon to downtown Jamaica at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue. This announcement blew up the comments section on our Facebook page (people are EXCITED!), so our Director of Marketing and Business Services Trey Jenkins and Program Manager Jahnavi Aluri took a visit last week to the Jollibee in Manhattan to taste test the goods and see what all the fuss is about. Trey tried the spicy chicken sandwich alongside the peach mango pie. Jahnvai tried the popular spicy Chickenjoy. The verdict? Trey said the spicy chicken sandwich was very crispy and pretty awesome with garlic aioli sauce and jalapenos on the bottom. The peach mango pie was sweet and flaky. 

Jahnavi reported spicy Chickenjoy was perfectly crunchy, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It definitely brought her joy! It also came with gravy, which is silky, hot and delicious. It was the perfect paring. The fries: regular good ole fashion hot and crispy deliciousness. 

Despite being represented in absentia via paper cutouts of their faces, Executive Director Jenn and Operations Manager Fred grumbled about not being able to attend the taste test, vowing to be first in line to see for themselves at the Jamaica opening.
We’re very excited for the location to open on Jamaica Avenue and we’ll keep you all informed as we receive additional information requiring hiring and the eventual open date. 
Jamaica Center BID Awarded SBS Strategic Impact Grant Award

Our BID is the recipient of the Strategic Impact Grant Award or “SIG” grant, to implement local COVID-19 recovery support to small businesses. The funds will be used to conduct outreach, provide technical assistance to connect small businesses, increase awareness of new City and State rules and regulations, and strengthen merchant relationships to foster collaboration and increased local organizing. With this funding, our BID is able to expand business support services to small businesses just outside of our BID boundaries, which don’t have the usual support of a business advocacy organization. This week we visited over 30 businesses, educating them on the City’s Commercial Lease Assistance program, the nearest sources for free business counseling, signing them up for our e-newsletter as well as the Department of Small Businesses e-newsletter and distributing 300 pieces of PPE. Next week our outreach continues, this time on Parsons Boulevard and parts of Hillside Avenue. We appreciate the Department of Small Business Services for entrusting us with this grant and look forward to working with the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, and our fellow grantees, to devise thoughtful and timely programming and outreach to keep our storefronts and commercial corridors open, healthy and thriving. 
A Light at the end of the Tunnel. COVID-19 Vaccinations at York College and throughout Queens

Since February 24th, York College (Health and Physical Education Building, 160-02 Liberty Avenue) has served as one of the region’s “Mega” vaccination sites for Covid-19. Southeast Queens was one of the communities disproportionally affected by the pandemic. We are thrilled that this location, staffed by FEMA members, is able to provide necessary preventative vaccines to up to 3,000 New Yorkers daily. Learn more and schedule your appointment here.  

To provide a “thank you” to the many workers at the York vaccination site that are helping eradicate this virus through the administration of vaccines, our BID has compiled a list of downtown Jamaica business discounts available to the FEMA and National Guard workers who have temporarily relocated here to help Jamaica recover. We applaud York College and our elected officials for bringing this important service to downtown Jamaica and hope to make our vaccine teams feel comfortable and welcome here while they do this important job. 
I Love Jamaica Ave Campaign and Women’s History Month

Last month we celebrated some of the members of our downtown Jamaica community with our ‘I Love Jamaica Ave’ campaign. We highlighted Dawn Kelly, owner of The Nourish Spot; Yvonne Reddick, District Manager of Community Board 12; Independent photographer Nat Valentine; Melva Miller of A Better New York; Norman Fairweather of the First Presbyterian Church and a Jamaica Center BID Board Member; Carl Clay founder of Black Spectrum Theatre and many more! You can view who were featured on our website here or by visiting our Instagram page

This month for Women’s History Month, we are partnering with 28 other Business Improvement Districts across all five boroughs with a focus on women-owned small businesses in the city, which have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic.

New Yorkers can participate in the campaign (#smallbusinesswonderwomen) by taking a photo of a woman small business owner in front of her store and posing the question: What makes you a small business wonder woman? Then post the photo and caption on social media/blog using the hashtag #smallbusinesswonderwomen.

Pay attention to our Instagram and Facebook pages to find out which downtown Jamaica women-owned businesses we feature!
Business News Section
Get to Know Your Free Business Counseling Resources 

This week we are keeping our business news section simple with a friendly reminder that Downtown Jamaica has three excellent small business counseling centers right in the area. All services are FREE—take advantage of them.

New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS): SBS, the City’s own agency dedicated to helping New York City’s small business community has Small Business Solutions within each borough dedicated to helping businesses start, operate and grow. The Queens Small Business Solutions Center is located in downtown Jamaica at 90-27 Sutphin Boulevard. They can assist minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) get City-certified and compete for contracts, connecting entrepreneurs to free resources ranging from business courses to legal services, explaining government rules and regulations, and helping entrepreneurs apply for funding to launch or grow a business. 

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on the York College Campus: SBDC’s are federally-funded/run small business support centers that provide a wealth of counseling services. Right now the York campus SBDC has a robust training program to help businesses bridge the digital divide and get their business online. They can also help apply for forgiveness for PPP loans, identify other loans and grants, create a business plan and more. 

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC): GJDC is a nonprofit community development corporation and a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that can help Queens businesses navigate government programs, apply for loans and alternative financing, create a business plan and more. They have special expertise in working with MWBE and industrial businesses as well. 

We’d be remiss not to mention our friends at the Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which also provide a wealth of support, classes, advocacy and more to any business located in Queens. 
PPE for Local South East Queens Small Businesses 

We continue to partner with the City of New York as an official distribution entity for PPE (masks) for local SE Queens businesses. Any business wishing to receive masks should send a request to Fred Green via 718-873-2508 or fgreen@jamaicacenter.org. Businesses are limited to 50 masks per business, or 20 per small business employee (regardless of their employment status), whichever number is greater. For example, a 1- or 2-person business would receive 50 masks; a 10-person business could receive 200 masks. If you need more masks for your employees, contact Fred quickly, as supplies go fast.  
General Community News
Two Affordable Housing Lotteries in Downtown Jamaica 

Over the past month two affordable housing lotteries have opened in the area. Archer Green Apartments located at 92-23 168th Street is now accepting applications to enter their housing lottery. Available are 351 units for residents from 40 to 130 percent of the area median income, ranging in eligible income from $20,160 to $183,300. 

The Tree of Life affordable housing lottery has launched as well. This new location at 89-46 164th Street will provide 174 units for residents at 50 to 120 percent of the area median income, ranging in eligible income from $25,372 to $169,200. Tree of Life will also feature a state-of-the-art 15,000 sq. ft. community health clinic to better serve the constituency.  

Both of the Archer Green and Tree of Life applications can be found here
Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) Call for Talent

JCAL invites NYC-based dance companies and choreographers to apply via open call for the 12th Annual Making Moves Dance Festival 2021 ~ TO LIFE! (MMDF2021). The submission deadline is April 17th, 2021; early submission is encouraged.

Choreographers working in all dance genres are encouraged to apply. You can submit your entry and learn more here.
Citizens Committee for New York City Grants

The Citizens Committee for New York City has grants available for local, grassroots organizations serving populations that have been affected by COVID-19.

To learn more about the grant and how to apply, visit here.
New Face Covering Guidance  

The Health Department today issued updated guidance on face coverings (PDF), one of the most critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidance recommends people over the age of two-years-old wear snug fitting masks with two or three layers of material to better prevent unfiltered air from passing through.  

Alternatively, New Yorkers may wear two masks, with a cloth face covering over a disposable mask. 

The guidance also suggests higher grade masks, like KN95s, for people at greater risk – including those 65 or older; those with an underlying medical condition; those who care for someone who is sick and people who are in prolonged close contact with non-household members while indoors. 
COVID-19 Assistance at Findhelp.org 

Find food assistance, help paying bills, and other free or reduced cost programs, including new programs for the COVID-19 pandemic at Findhelp.org. 
Stop the Spread of COVID with NY's Contact Tracing App 

To stop the spread, New Yorkers need to do their part. Participate in the new contact tracing app COVID Alert NY to help keep yourself and your community safe.  

COVID Alert NY is a voluntary, anonymous, exposure-notification app that notifies you if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Knowing about a potential exposure allows you to self-quarantine immediately, get tested, and reduce the potential exposure risk to others.  

The app is available to anyone 18+ who lives, works, or attends school in New York or New Jersey, and it's available in seven languages.  

Download the app for iPhone or Android here. Read the FAQ on privacy and more here
COVID Guidance for New Yorkers

All New Yorkers can take some simple steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:  

  • Stay home: Stay home, especially if you are sick unless you are leaving for essential medical care or other essential errands. 

  • Physical distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Do not attend large gatherings, especially indoor gatherings. Remember to keep a safe distance between you and others even when wearing a face covering.  

  • Wear a face-covering: Protect those around you. You can be contagious without having symptoms and spread the disease when you cough, sneeze or talk. When worn correctly (covering both your nose and mouth), face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Practice healthy hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; clean frequently touched surfaces regularly; avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; and cover coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hands. 

  • Get tested. To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319). Testing is free at many sites, including all sites operated by Health + Hospitals and the NYC Health Department. 

For general information on COVID-19, visit nyc.gov/health/coronavirus or text “COVID” to 692-692. Message and data rates may apply.  
About Business and Event Promotions in this Newsletter: Businesses and organizations located in the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District between Sutphin Blvd and 169th Street are invited to submit promotional information for possible inclusion in our newsletter. Events happening near or immediately adjacent to the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District may also be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to reject or edit materials for length, style, timeliness, and appropriateness. This newsletter serves to inform our community about events, opportunities and commercial activity in Downtown Jamaica, within specifically the Jamaica Center BID boundaries.