Queens Lawmakers on the Move August 27, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Comrie Honors Southeast Queens Entrepreneur Dawn Kelly

State Senator Leroy Comrie

State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-Briarwood, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hillcrest, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) announced Wednesday that he has nominated local entrepreneur Dawn Kelly for recognition in the State Senate’s Women of Distinction ceremony. 

Kelly, owner of the Nourish Spot at 107-05 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in Jamaica, will be recognized for her grit and determination as a small business owner as well as her selfless commitment to serving her community during the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City.

“Each day, Dawn Kelly reminds us that through hard work, perseverance and confidence in ourselves, our dreams can be our reality,” said Comrie. “Not only for her success which is emblematic of the success of countless women business owners in Southeast Queens, but also for her commitment to giving back to the community, I am proud to recognize Dawn Kelly for her accomplishments.”

Kelly is a South Jamaica native whose career in public relations came to an abrupt end in 2015 when the position she held at her company was eliminated. With faith in her ability to succeed as a small business owner and a lot of preparation and hard work, Kelly opened the Nourish Spot, a juice bar and healthy food store. She persevered through the difficulty of starting a small business and has seen her store become a neighborhood favorite. 

Kelly recognizes that her business is not just her livelihood, but also a place of opportunity for teenagers and young men and women growing up in the same community she grew up in. Working with youth development organizations, she provides jobs for young people interested in the hospitality industry. And, when COVID-19 upended New York, Kelly worked with Comrie’s office to help ensure that seniors, families that lost income due to the pandemic, and essential workers were fed.

The annual celebration normally involves an in-person ceremony in Albany, but this year it will be conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Women of Distincton celebration coincides with Women’s Equality Day, a holiday that commemorates adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits denying the right to vote on the basis of sex.

Meng Supports Bill to Help Restaurants Impacted by COVID-19

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced Wednesday that she has cosponsored bipartisan legislation to establish a fund for struggling food and drinking establishments that have suffered economic losses due to COVID-19.

The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020 (H.R. 7197), would create a $120 billion restaurant stabilization grant program to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry, and ensure that they can re-employ 11 million workers. Unlike any other industry, restaurants have been uniquely devastated by the coronavirus with millions of restaurant workers losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

“Saving independent food and drinking establishments will literally save millions of people’s livelihoods which is why I’ve cosponsored the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act,” said Meng. “In Queens and across New York City, restaurants and drinking establishments play a vital role in providing jobs and contributing to our region’s economy. Failing to help these types of venues will greatly harm our borough and country’s recovery, and the lives of so many who are part of the service industry. I urge all my colleagues to support this critical bill.”

Under the legislation, funding would be made available to food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, that are not publicly traded or part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name. The fund would provide grants to cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020, with a maximum grant amount of $10 million. The fund would be administered by the U.S. Treasury Department, and money received from it would not need to be paid back.

The fund would also set aside $60 million for outreach to traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities, with a focus on women, veteran, and minority-owned and operated eligible entities.

Richards Small Business Services Bill Expected to Pass

City Council Member Donovan Richards

Councilmember Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens), Chair of Committee on Public Safety, introduced a bill that will be voted on today and is expected to pass that will require Small Business Services to report on financial assistance received by small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“The disparities we’ve seen during this pandemic has directly and undoubtedly impacted our small business owners including street vendors and food trucks. The data has shown us that amount of resources, materials and financial assistance small businesses received were unjustifiably and inequitably divided among the five boroughs. This is a collaborative effort that seeks to produce equitable financial resources for small business stability. That collaboration includes the administration and the Council, but most importantly it has to include the small businesses who are the lifeblood of this city,” Richards said.

In June, Business owners in Queens received only 9%, the Bronx 1% percent, Brooklyn 18% and Staten Island 5% of the loans and grants disbursed by Small Business Services. 66% went to Manhattan. From February to June, Black business ownership in New York fell by 70%. There were about 98,600 active Black-owned businesses in New York before the pandemic and there were only 29,479 left as of June.  

The full report and more information are available online.

More from Around New York