By Mauricio Rocha
New York–On October 24, 2019 The United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA) joined the The Jerome Avenue Partnership for a meeting to brainstorm solutions to the gentrification crisis happening to the Jerome Avenue Corridor. President and founder of UAMA, Pedro Estevez, represented his association at the meeting. UAMA is dedicated to achieving a resolution in this ongoing battle, where many Latino, minority, and women owned businesses will be priced out of their shops and homes on Jerome Avenue. Many auto-businesses have been there for over ten years and wish to continue in their industries there. The diverse community is made up of various cultures including immigrant-owned businesses from Latin Americans and West Africans.
An associate from JobsFirstNYC said, “The Jerome Avenue Corridor has been rezoned and that means many of the businesses that are in the neighborhood will no longer be in the neighborhood, post rezoning. Lots of people will be impacted by this whether it is housing, venues, or businesses. This corridor is one of the last few places in the city that is still predominantly mom-and-pop stores, not big box stores, and that is going to change with rezoning. What does that mean for this community? That means people that have lived or worked in this community for decades may be displaced. This partnership was formed to bring together the local stakeholders, institutions, and community residents to really think about we can do together to alleviate some of that pain from rezoning.”
“The mission of the Jerome Avenue Partnership will bring about inclusive economic growth and sustainability for local residents, employers, and workers impacted by the Jerome Avenue rezoning. We hope to prepare current employers and workers for this impact and increase the retainment, employment and education of current residents. We want to make sure local residents are aware of these opportunities. The city has lots of opportunities to roll out in conjunction with the rezoning. There is an ongoing debate between gentrification and revitalization of a community, and we want to be sure we are revitalizing this community,” said the associate from JobsFirstNYC.
Of the approximately 1000 different businesses located on Jerome Avenue, 200 of them are automotive businesses, approximately. The automotive industry is the industry with the largest concentration on Jerome Avenue, accounting for 20% of the total businesses. These 200 automotive businesses range from auto repair shops, tire shops, auto sound and security, auto glass shops, auto dealerships and parking lots. The rest of the businesses on the Jerome Avenue Corridor range from 23 different industries, such as: barbershops, salons, bodegas, bars, clubs, banks, retail stores, and more. UAMA is advocating to include the local residents and employees in this discussion, at a time when the face of the community is changing
At the meeting we brainstormed ways to solve the ongoing issues plaguing the Jerome Avenue Corridor, including workforce development, economic development, and structure. This ongoing dialogue is a way to engage the community and make sure their voice and perspectives are being heard. The Jerome Avenue Partnership is working with developers to secure a set amount of jobs for local residents and to secure proper training and skills that can carry on to other positions, if they choose to change professions.
“I know Pedro is working diligently with the auto-workers who are disproportionately impacted by the rezoning of Jerome Avenue. We are trying to think about what the next chapter for those auto-workers is,” said an associate from JobsFirstNYC.
One idea is coming up with a hub, or a center where members of the Jerome Avenue community can go to seek assistance with their displacement, rising rent costs, and other struggles dealing with the rezoning. We also want to make sure that everyone has access to the opportunities the Jerome Avenue Partnership offers to residents. Stay tuned for more updates on this ongoing topic that is a major concern to the borough of the Bronx and beyond.