The Harlem Shake-Up: New Initiative To Keep Small Black Businesses In the Iconic Neighborhood

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February 27, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

For the past few years, Harlem has been experiencing  gentrification, with national chains and high-end stores opening, apartment rents rising, longtime residents moving out, and famed, culturally significant businesses such as the Lenox Lounge, Hue-Man Bookstore, and Harlem Vintage closing.

Now, according to Black Enterprise magazine, the Harlem Business Alliance  has announced that it will put a $700,000 three-year grant toward opening a Small Business Support Center. This will be in an effort to help current small business survive the changing landscape of neighborhood, which until recently was mainly African American. According to the New York Times, blacks are no longer the majority in Harlem.

And white-owned businesses are moving in. As The Network Journal reported, the jazz hot spot, The Lenox Lounge closed after the owner could no longer afford the rent. Restaurateur Richard Notar has now moved in with a new eatery. Notar is a managing partner of the popular Japanese Nobu restaurant chain.

The alliance is using a grant from the Community Economic Development Program issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will partner with IncubateNYC. The partnership aims to offer shared office space and other business incubation services, among other things. “The center will focus on assisting local shops with the skills and tools they need to stay afloat. Emphasis will especially be placed on teaching marketing, bid preparation, payroll and other crucial operations that many business owners have little to no experience in,” reports BE.

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