The continued effort to revitalize Jamaica as a hub for transportation, business, the arts and affordable living received a major boost last week when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in town to announce $10 million in state-backed downtown improvement grants.
Gov. Cuomo and elected officials in an accompanying press release spoke glowingly of how the funding would benefit the individual programs and Jamaica as a whole.
“This critical investment in Jamaica’s downtown will help it grow into a major economic hub that boosts small businesses, expands economic opportunity for residents, and draws new residents and visitors to the community,” Cuomo said. “These projects will help transform Downtown Jamaica into a bustling neighborhood, spurring economic development and creating a brighter future for residents and workers across the great borough of Queens.”
Hochul said Jamaica is poised for substantial job and economic growth.
“The projects announced today will capitalize on Jamaica’s higher education institutions, cultural cornerstones, diversity, and status as a transportation hub to increase its appeal to residents, workers, students and visitors, fueling its growth through career preparation, entrepreneurship programs, business creation and downtown improvements.”
The seven winning projects include:
• the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. Co-Working Space ($1.65 million), which will be a shared workspace for local entrepreneurs and independent professionals at the Moda Building, run by the GJDC. It will offer affordable, flexible workspace and access to business equipment and services to startups, freelancers, and others;
• High-Speed Broadband to Downtown Jamaica ($2.65 million);
• creation of a public space around the Long Island Rail Road underpass at 159th Street, which connects York College and downtown Jamaica ($1.5 million); improvements will include overhead lighting, public art, seating, and event space;
• enhancing pedestrian space on Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues near the Jamaica Center subway station ($2.5 million);
• a restaurant startup fund to improve dining and nightlife activity in the downtown, including the establishment of an incubator space for new food businesses at the Jamaica Market ($1.45 million);
• establishing a Prime Skills Entrepreneurship Fund, a training program that helps low-income Jamaica residents launch or grow businesses ($230,000); and
• enhancing career prep training at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School ($165,000).
The project would provide funds for new equipment and software that will enable the CTE programs to stay on the leading edge and ensure graduates are job-ready for employment in the tech, design and healthcare sectors — all of which are considered growth industries in Downtown Jamaica.
Borough President Melinda Katz said it is a perfect complement to her Jamaica Now Action Plan.
“This is a concerted, strategic investment toward revitalizing Jamaica’s downtown core by enhancing education, entrepreneurship and public space,” Katz said, one she added is likely to make the area more attractive to investors.