Just eighteen months ago, I had the pleasure and privilege of becoming the President and Chief Executive Officer of Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. While we pay homage to the history and accomplishments of the past, it is thrilling to look forward and know where we are going. GJDC, now at the cusp of its fiftieth year, is poised to help manage the transition of Jamaica from a disinvested under-served community to a neighborhood epitomizing healthy growth and opportunity for all its residents.
This transition will be greatly enhanced by a 10 million dollar infusion of funding from New York State as a result of Jamaica being selected as a winner of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant competition. This grant was announced by Governor Cuomo at a special ceremony held at Jamaica Performing Arts Center on August 17, 2016. GJDC‘s hard work in preparing the winning application reflects our strong commitment to area revitalization.
In the short term, we see Downtown Jamaica as a place where construction has started, or is about to commence on numerous sites. This burst of activity is bringing affordable housing (The Crossing at Jamaica, Norman Towers), diverse retail (Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, Old Navy) and hospitality (Hilton, Marriott, Starbucks) to Jamaica at an unprecedented pace and fashion. At the same time, GJDC is creating and conducting a steady stream of community events to insure the residents of Jamaica are connected to the ongoing revitalization. This includes several minority and women owned business fairs for securing work on construction projects in Jamaica, access to capital seminars including how to establish and maintain good credit, legal forums on how to start a business, and presentations by area developers on the mechanics of finding employment at construction projects.
In addition, our attention to quality of life issues in and around the Downtown remains strong. This includes area beautification, streetscape and horticulture as well as helping businesses crack down on illegal dumping and parking that impedes commerce. We are also working to enhance Jamaica as a cultural destination and recently received grant funding from NY Community Trust for arts led development and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs to strengthen the cultural capacity of this area.
Our long term view is positive. We know that community development is an ongoing process and strategic vision is critical. For GJDC that vision is the promotion of responsible development which fully integrates area residents in the emerging construction, hospitality and retail industries and improves the lives of the people who live and work here. In 2015, Jamaica was designated as NYC’s next “hot” neighborhood by StreetEasy. That designation reflects not only upon the ease of transportation options or the surge of development activity, rather it is a signal that Jamaica has arrived. With the strong support of this community, our productive partnerships with businesses and government and the game changing Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is leading the way to ensure an even brighter future.