BRONXVILLE, NY — November 24, 2020 — At this time of year when giving thanks is center stage, I wanted to share with you the positive and meaningful impact a community can make when everyone works collectively. Thanks to the caring and generous residents of our Village, along with incredible assistance from our own Chamber of Commerce, we have put together a program called BXV FOR BXV. The genesis of the program was the devastating effect the Covid19 virus was having on our merchants as trade literally came to a halt in late March and is only now returning to some semblance of normalcy. Together with Village government, a core group of concerned residents conceptualized a program to help our businesses not only survive but hopefully thrive going forward so when Covid19 is mercifully over, we still will have a vital, charming business district that so defines our Village.
In early June, the group gave out 16 one year loans of $5000 each at a 0.18% interest rate, the lowest allowable by law before it is deemed a gift. These were awarded to Bronxville businesses, in many cases just to survive through the summer months.
At the same time, many of our young people saw their plans for summer internships and jobs disappear and when they learned of the program, they generously lent their energy and talents to assist in every aspect of the initiative from marketing to business relations to project research to writing news articles and then boots on the ground handing out flyers and selling merchandise on Pondfield Road. Our young people were truly integral to the progress of the program through the summer months.
In an effort to include every possible resident who wanted to help our merchants, the Stronger Together program was initiated in August as a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the needs of local businesses and create an inclusive Village wide fundraising platform. To date we have raised over $18,000 and have reinvigorated the program for the holiday months with a goal of raising an additional $12,000 which we will also share directly with our merchants. When volunteers were soliciting small donations in front of Lange’s this summer, a young boy walking by donated the $2 he had saying, “I love our town and I want to be able to go to the candy store next year.”
To help out, you can head to the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce website and either make a donation, with no amount too small, or purchase our very good looking car magnets and tote bags to show your support for our merchants. Please also spread the word for us and help our “friendraising” effort. A donation not only helps a merchant perhaps buy additional needed Covid19 protections but also sends the message that the Village is behind them, which is probably the greatest gift of all.
September brought a Part Two of the loan program which has been extended through January. This is an opportunity for businesses to prepare for the future with the group offering loans up to $35,000. The loans were custom created with the help of Trustco Bank and the Westchester Bank who truly live up to their mottos of stepping in for local needs. The loan pool of funds was made possible by the raising of $750,000 from the core committee who first conceived the plan as well as a pool of equally concerned citizens. At present we have loan applications totally approximately 50% of the amount raised.
I believe this collaboration and cooperation between every sector of the community to support local businesses is unique. In fact, many other communities have reached out for the template which we happily share.
As highlights, the structure of the loans are completely favorable to the businesses and not the banks and only interest payments are required in the first two years of the four year loans. The interest rate itself is 50% less than the lowest interest rate available through usual channels at between 2.25% and 2.75%. The applicants incur no fees for the application and origination process and will be charged no penalties should they pre-pay or need to make late payments.
In addition to the loan opportunities, expert help in renegotiating leases or entering new ones proved so beneficial to many merchants. It should be noted that many of our landlords also stepped up and did their part to suspend or decrease rental payments. The hope is that bringing financial assistance with the best possible conditions to our local businesses will give them freedom and latitude to explore new initiatives, hire the help they need and continue to do business under pandemic conditions and beyond.
Keeping with the altruistic motives, the committee members have no desire for public recognition as the goal is simply to recap the enjoyment of a thriving village for many generations to come.
The BXV FOR BXV initiative found the silver lining during what have been clearly dark days. I believe it is a spotlight on what can happen when a community works together with a shared goal. It is a continuing story of collaboration, determination, creativity and hope.
SOURCE: Mary Ann Magliato, Secretary to Mayor & Village Administrator, Bronxville Village Hall