On Monday, April 27th, several hundred Bronxites made their way to Albany by bus and car to participate in the 2nd Annual Bronx Day in Albany. Sponsored by State Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, State Senator Jeff Klein, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., this year's theme centered around supporting small businesses and economic development in the Bronx. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the county, the event highlighted Bronx pride and the successes of small businesses, many who were in attendance.
Residents and business owners were treated to a luncheon and networking session upon arrival, followed by an opportunity to direct concerns and statements directly to legislators and state agency leaders in a first-of-its-kind listening session. Many of the questions focused on the growing number of regulations that have becoming stumbling blocks to many start-up and existing businesses. Having the opportunity to present a question myself, I drew attention to the concern of supportive housing developers circumventing city zoning requirements for ground floor commercial areas on Webster Avenue in Bedford Park, thereby eliminating the potential for thousands of square feet of commercial space and the jobs that they could bring to the northwest Bronx. Other concerns expressed were how to create a friendlier business environment for minority and women owned businesses so that they can also participate in the urban renewal that is taking place throughout the Bronx.
After the listening session, Bronxites were able to take a tour of the capitol building and visit the Assembly and Senate chambers in live sessions. Others chose to catch a glimpse and marvel at some of the great architecture throughout the capitol building. After the tours, their was a reception at the Egg Convention Center, where dozens of local businesses and institutions were present to provide information or free samples of food, drinks, and deserts. The cocktail event was hosted by Rhina Valentin a BronxNet television personality who hosts "OPEN" every Fridays. Rhina introduced a number of the musical acts and the elected officials, who thanked everyone for coming out and participating in the event.
This event could not have been made possible without the vision of two individuals; State Assemblyman Gjonaj, who conceived of the idea for the first Bronx Day in 2013, and local businesswoman Jacqueline Acevedo of Marketing & Advertising Solutions (MAS), who coordinated the promotion and many of the days activities. This year's event of course would not have been possible without the support of dozens of major sponsors, including the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and the New York Yankees, and the various small business sponsors that represent the lifeblood of commerce throughout our borough.