What's Happening This Week in
Downtown Jamaica
Jamaica Center Cleans Up For The Holidays

Did you know that our organization removes litter, stickers, bills and graffiti from Jamaica Avenue seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.? Our regular sanitation services keep Jamaica Avenue clean, but we have long been aware that the side streets leading to Jamaica Avenue are in need of some TLC, as these roadways serve as a common artery to our shopping district and are often the first impression visitors receive when approaching our main shopping corridor. That’s why last weekend our BID partnered with local community group SEQ Cleanup for a pop-up Clean-Up event to remove litter from 161st – 162nd Street between Jamaica Avenue and 89th Avenue.  

Jamaica Center BID staff and family members, twenty volunteers from Queens, and NYPD Community Affairs rolled their sleeves up, donned gloves, grabbed brooms, bags, and litter pickers and got to work removing disposed takeout food containers, bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts and more. At the end of the day dozens of bags of trash were off the street, out of our tree pits and ready for special pick-up by NYC’s Department of Sanitation.

Our BID would like to thank the following Jamaica Avenue businesses who contributed exclusive discounts and coupons as a ‘thank you’ to our clean up volunteers: Hook & Reel (161-21 Jamaica Ave), Rincon Salvadoreno (92-15 149th St), Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s Jamaica Market (90-40 160th St), MA Perfume (165-12 Jamaica Ave), Cookies (166-21 Jamaica Ave), Make Me Over Beauty Bar (166-11 Jamaica Avenue), European Wax Center (166-16 Jamaica Ave) and Golden Krust (165-10 Jamaica Ave). Our BID also provided each volunteer one of our signature “I Love Jamaica Avenue” tote bags. Show these community-champion/good-neighbor businesses your appreciation over the next couple of weeks with your holiday shopping and beyond!  

Psst! To learn more about SEQ, their founder DJ Nett, and what she loves about Jamaica Avenue keep reading! 
Jamaica Avenue is All Aglow  

Our holiday lights are strung once again along the length of Jamaica Avenue to provide a festive atmosphere while you shop for the holiday season. Look for the “Welcome to Jamaica Ave” arch. When you see it: take a pic, tag us on social media and encourage your friends to “Shop Local—Shop Jamaica Avenue!” You may get an “I Love Jamaica” tote bag for your efforts!  

Also adding some recent holiday sparkle to the Avenue: Cultural Collaborative Jamaica’s (CCJ) holiday tree in Rufus King Park. CCJ lit the tree Saturday after our clean up as part of their annual Holidays on the Avenue event, which featured live DJ music from DJ Annie Red, a performance from David Sincere, a dance performance by Edge School of the Arts and a socially-distanced toy giveaway for children in the community. 
I Love Jamaica Ave Shopper Spotlight: DJ Nett 

We caught up with DJ Nett, the founder of South East Queens (SEQ) Cleanup Initiative and our partner for this past weekend’s cleanup in downtown Jamaica, to learn more about what she loves about Jamaica Avenue:

Tell us what made you start SEQ Cleanup? 

I founded South East Queens “SEQ” Cleanup this past summer in July when I noticed the horrible conditions my SEQ community was left in due to budget cuts stemming from the pandemic. Downtown Jamaica was my stomping grounds growing up...it’s where I shopped, caught school buses and hung out with friends, and after a successful first year growing SEQ Cleanup, I am thankful to be doing our end of the year wrap up on Jamaica Ave.

What’s a little-known fact about yourself? 

Besides devoting my free time to give back to my community, I also am a DJ and have been perfecting my craft in the art form of DJing for over 20 years now. You can find me at my Instagram at @DJNett.  

What’s your favorite business on Jamaica Avenue? 

What business would you want to see on Jamaica Avenue? 

"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid!" LOL ..... If Toy R Us ever came back in business I would want to see it back on the Avenue. That’s one store I miss and would want to see on the Ave again. 

How can people contribute to SEQ Cleanup? 

People can contribute to SEQ Cleanup by following our pages on social media and staying connected with us so they can join us in volunteering at our upcoming projects which will kick back off in spring 2021. (@SEQCleanup on Instagram and "SEQ Cleanup" group on Facebook)  

Know someone we should feature in a future shopper spotlight? Email tjenkins@jamaicenter.org.
Coming Soon: Jollibee! 

Signage for Jollibee is up at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue. A Filipino multinational chain, with a huge fan following, Jollibee is known for three popular products: Chickenjoy fried chicken, sweet-style Jolly Spaghetti and Peach Mango pie. We’re sending our BID’s very own Jahnavi Aluri (Commercial Revitalization Manager) to taste test these three Jollibee products at the already-opened Times Square location this week and will return in our next newsletter with some exclusive intel on what we can expect when Jollibee opens on Jamaica Avenue! 
Our BID Participates in A Better Jamaica’s (ABJ) Read-a-Thon 

On December 1st our Director of Marketing and Business Services Trey Jenkins participated in A Better Jamaica’s annual read-a-thon, which raises money to help young students in Jamaica, Queens who struggle with their reading skills. Because of Covid-19, this event was held virtually instead of inside the Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer subway station. Trey read one of his favorite books as a child titled ‘The Princess Who Never Laughed.’  

A Better Jamaica raised over $5k, a record for this event. Great job! If you want to view the read-a-thon in its entirety you can do so by visiting here.
Business News
Covid-19 Business Inspections: How’s It All Work?  

During Covid-19, your business may be inspected by either NYC government inspectors –and/or- NY State government inspectors to ensure your business is complying with basic Covid-19 prevention measures, including, but not limited to mask-wearing, social distancing, and appropriate sanitation measures. Our BID has learned a little more about these inspections, what you may expect and some cautionary things of which you should be aware.

City & State Inspectors: In order to quickly convene enough inspectors to visit NYC businesses during this public health crisis, the City of New York Mayor’s office worked with multiple City agencies, ranging from NYC Health, Consumer Affairs, Parks, Fire and more to gather an emergency force of Covid-19 inspection staff. All inspector staff—regardless of the City Department from which they came, were trained in the same way to inspect businesses for Covid-19 prevention compliance. Therefore, if your business receives a Covid-19 business inspection from an agency that normally doesn’t inspect your business, this may be why. Likewise, an inspector from the State’s multi-agency task force -- led by the State Police and State Liquor Authority, may inspect your establishment for compliance with the State and City Covid-19 business requirements. No matter which agency inspectors are from, you may ask them to show government employee identification, give you the name of their agency, as well as the purpose of the inspection.   

Be Vigilant & Notify Us With Issues: Businesses elsewhere in the City have reported fake inspectors who demand payment, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, on-site after an “inspection”. No legitimate inspector will ever request payment during an inspection. Inspectors should always identify themselves with a badge, leave professional materials behind, and if a ticket is written, this ticket should be traceable through that particular City or State agency’s systems. Please notify our BID and the police immediately if you believe you have been visited by a fake inspector. Please also notify us ASAP if you receive what feels like an excessive amount of inspections in a small period of time from multiple City or State agencies. 
There’s Still Time to Apply for Open Storefronts 

Building from the success of the Open Restaurants program, businesses can still apply for the Open Storefronts Campaign. This reimagining of outdoor space will allow ground-floor storefront businesses to use a portion of the sidewalk to conduct business. If you’re a ground floor level storefront business, learn more about this program and sign up to participate here. Remember that businesses should not roll merchandise out onto the sidewalk without proper city authorization through the Open Storefronts Campaign, a sidewalk sales permit or similar.
New Loan and Grant Programs Released

NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) recently launched two additional programs to support businesses in low-to-moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods: 

NYC LMI Storefront Loan is an interest-free loan up to $100,000 to help storefront businesses located in low-to-moderate income (LMI) areas of New York City restart or continue operations after experiencing challenges from COVID-19. Loans have a 60-month term with no required payments for the first six months. More information here.  

Interest Rate Reduction Grant: If your business has taken out a loan from one of 11-designated Community Development Financial Institutions “CDFI’s” (including our neighboring Greater Jamaica Development Corporation) listed here you may be eligible for this grant to reduce the interest expense owed on an existing loan CDFI. The grant will free up cash flow for your business that can be repurposed to help restart or maintain operations. Businesses must have an existing loan with CDFIs listed as eligible for the program.  
New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership 

Recognizing the economic impact of COVID-19, this program will provide small businesses and their landlords with informational resources and pro bono assistance to help both parties reach mutually-beneficial lease workout agreements. This service is available to all New York State small businesses and landlords, and participation is voluntary. Over the next year, the partnership has the capacity to serve thousands of small businesses statewide. Learn more here
PPE for Local Southeast Queens Small Businesses

We continue to partner with the City of New York as an official distribution entity for PPE (masks) for local SE Queens businesses. Any business wishing to receive masks should send a request to Fred Green via 718-873-2508 or fgreen@jamaicacenter.org. Businesses are limited to 50 masks per business, or 20 per small business employee (regardless of their employment status), whichever number is greater. For example, a 1- or 2-person business would receive 50 masks; a 10-person business could receive 200 masks. If you need more masks for your employees, contact Fred quickly, as supplies go fast.
General Community News
Upcoming Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL Events) 

This month JCAL has launched an exciting pilot program called Building Equity for Immigrant and Indigenous Artists in Southeast Queens. It is dedicated to researching, engaging and promoting underrepresented artists in our community, and to providing greater access for audiences to see and to experience their work. 

Building Equity Thru Art will be 100% free, suitable for viewers of all ages, and an essential part of JCAL’s “Community First, Digital First” 2020-21 season, which prioritizes programs and events most relevant to the diverse community of Southeast Queens. Register for the events here.
Information About COVID Cluster Zones  

Additional restrictions on food establishments and non-essential businesses have been implemented in some specific zones within NYC, based on the most recent COVID-19 testing data. Find more information and resources at these links: 

Stop the Spread of COVID with NY's Contact Tracing App 

To stop the spread, New Yorkers need to do their part. Participate in the new contact tracing app COVID Alert NY to help keep yourself and your community safe.  

COVID Alert NY is a voluntary, anonymous, exposure-notification app that notifies you if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Knowing about a potential exposure allows you to self-quarantine immediately, get tested, and reduce the potential exposure risk to others.  

The app is available to anyone 18+ who lives, works, or attends school in New York or New Jersey, and it's available in seven languages.  

Download the app for iPhone or Android here. Read the FAQ on privacy and more here
COVID Guidance for New Yorkers

All New Yorkers can take some simple steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:  

  • Stay home: Stay home, especially if you are sick unless you are leaving for essential medical care or other essential errands. 

  • Physical distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Do not attend large gatherings, especially indoor gatherings. Remember to keep a safe distance between you and others even when wearing a face covering.  

  • Wear a face covering: Protect those around you. You can be contagious without having symptoms and spread the disease when you cough, sneeze or talk. When worn correctly (covering both your nose and mouth), face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Practice healthy hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; clean frequently touched surfaces regularly; avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; and cover coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hands. 

  • Get tested. To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319). Testing is free at many sites, including all sites operated by Health + Hospitals and the NYC Health Department. 

For general information on COVID-19, visit nyc.gov/health/coronavirus or text “COVID” to 692-692. Message and data rates may apply.  
About Business and Event Promotions in this Newsletter: Businesses and organizations located in the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District between Sutphin Blvd and 169th Street are invited to submit promotional information for possible inclusion in our newsletter. Events happening near or immediately adjacent to the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District may also be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to reject or edit materials for length, style, timeliness, and appropriateness. This newsletter serves to inform our community about events, opportunities and commercial activity in Downtown Jamaica, within specifically the Jamaica Center BID boundaries.