Gail Davis at the first We Mean Business workshop, Sept. 16, 2015

In order to share the print and online components of our advocacy campaign and kickstart a sense of belonging amongst East NY small businesses, we decided to invite them to an evening info session, walk them through their expected responsibilities as ambassadors and address ways to leverage the communications materials we had created on their behalf. On Wed. Sept 16th at LDCENY headquarters we hosted our first group session and 3×3 conducted a demo of the prototype SMS alert platform which, once they’ve signed, will automatically keep small retailers aware of the opportunities offered by local LDCs to improve their operation. We organized the necessary opportunities for training in what we call 5 buckets of  preparedness – echoing the typical post-Sandy city’s disaster plan. Those 5 areas include ongoing concerns for any small owner as well as contextual issues related to the current rezoning plan ; 1 – grow your business; 2 – promote your business; 3 – learn how to recruit ;  4 – know your renters rights/tax increase; and learn about the rezoning rules.

Santos Morales, of LDCENY, leads the “Promote Your Biz” table, at the Sept. 23 workshop held at the New Lots library
Workshop participants with their Ts, at the Sept 23 workshop, New Lots library

A week later, we had asked those budding ambassadors to invite 2-3 other colleagues to attend (so they could play their ambassador role right away) but this time we hosted the event at the New Lots Library auditorium where community meetings are often organized. In the first part of the evening, we walked participants through the various components of our campaign again, our process and rationale, this time with a live website demo. In the second part, we offered crash courses in the 5 buckets of preparedness we had identified as being the key issues small businesses should address to become resilient. At each table an expert recruited amongst the local partners was able to provide, in 10-15 mn, basic information about 5 main issues: LDC staff talked about business development plans, web and tech courses, Cypress Hills successfully highlighted their youth recruitment service and the Coalition discussed how the City’s rezoning plan would affect small business rents and access to property. Participants were asked at the very end of the evening what lesson they had taken away, and what they thought their role would be as a Small Business Ambassador.

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