When immigrant neighborhood institutions vanish, jobs, community spaces, and affordable resources in low wealth communities of color also disappear. Commercial displacement becomes cultural displacement.  The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), alongside our members Cooper Square Committee, Chhaya CDC, and Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition developed the Immigrant Cultural Corridors project (ICC) in order to gain a deeper understanding of the particular needs of immigrant small business owners across New York City.

The Project

Immigrant-owned small businesses comprise 48% of New York City’s roughly 220,000 small businesses. Immigrants employ nearly half a million New Yorkers and contribute $195 billion to the city’s GDP annually. These businesses are anchors within their communities, particularly in immigrant dense commercial corridors. They provide culturally relevant goods and services and a space for neighbors to convene.

Immigrant-owned small businesses are crucial to New York City’s economic and cultural vitality, and yet brick and mortar tenants currently face a number of challenges impeding their likelihood of survival. In past reports, ANHD cited commercial warehousing, barriers to securing finance, and lack of governmental resources as threats to the wellbeing of all small businesses in the city. However, the particular needs of immigrant small businesses in neighborhoods undergoing varying development scenarios have gone largely unexplored.

The ICC initiative sought to assess the needs of immigrant dense commercial corridors and communities at varying stages of development: post-transition communities, transitioning communities, and stagnating corridors. Other criteria included emphasis on immigrant density and concentration of commercial units. The three surveyed neighborhoods represent an array of ethnic backgrounds, cultural histories, and streetscapes. Working with community partners in the Lower East Side, Jackson Heights, and Kingsbridge we engaged and gathered together immigrant small business owners to identify and discuss the most pertinent issues threatening the small business community.

On March 6th, we will release our findings in an upcoming report entitled, The Forgotten Tenants: New York City’s Immigrant Small Business Owners.