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Massapequa Plan I
The Chamber of Commerce of the Massapequas, Inc.
Community Business Revitalization: More Than Just Our Community's Problem
Spring 1995

Does the following sound familiar? "Something has to be done to help our community attract business back into all those empty stores." Well if it does, and unfortunately for far too many communities on Long Island it will, read on. The Chamber of Commerce of the Massapequas have watched and waited for something to be done about the seemingly ever increasing number of "empty stores" that can be found throughout our community. After watching and waiting for longer than we cared to, we have decided to do something ourselves -- and therein lies this story.

The Massapequas have experienced an empty-store-front rate that has increased 50% in recent years. Two years ago we had over 40 empty stores. Today, we have over 60 empty stores with no apparent reduction in the number of unoccupied businesses in sight. Our merchants have identified the three major causes of local business failures as high-priced rents, expensive utilities and costly taxes. In addition, the Chamber questions the level of support the local residents provide our community's small businesses. Without strong community support the utilization of our community's store fronts by local small businesses will only continue to decline.

For us a simple objective exists. We want our community to provided local business with an environment that is appealing, in order to increase the utilization of available business space, and with the goal of 100% occupancy a possibility.

We have identified an approach that while not simple, is not that difficult to understand. Through the interaction with government, regulated authorities, local service providers and civic organizations, we can identify possible business cost reductions or incentives, and, can identify those businesses that will either draw maximum local community support or which will not be adversely affected by the lack of same. The importance of this last point cannot be over stated. If we can't change the local business environment, then let's find those businesses that find the existing environment conducive.

We do not think our community is that much different from many other Long Island Communities. The Massapequas include 20 separate business areas, varying in size from small store fronts comprised of several businesses, to one of Long Island's largest malls.

Why have we decided at this time to take action on our own. Well, other business organizations claim to be taking action, without any obvious results and without any cohesive plan that includes positive participation by local government, business and civic organizations. Simply put, much is written with little seemingly being accomplished.

As already mentioned, there is agreement among existing businesses that rents, utilities and taxes are all too high in relation to the profits that can be enjoyed by a local small business. There also seems to be agreement among our community residents that they desire their Long Island main street to remain as it has, for the last forty plus years.

Yet no concerted efforts have resulted in the reduction of the aforementioned costs. And, our community residence do not seem prone to support their local businesses at the level necessary to allow these merchants to afford the high cost of doing business on Long Island.

In addition to making local business affordable, and identifying the type of business that will prosper locally and help take our community successfully into the 21st century, areas that need to be addressed include the availability of local, state and federal revitalization related funding; our community identity and its effect on the types business to attract; crime prevention; establishing a centralized business information clearing house; potential business diversification; and, last but in no way least, our community image.

So what have we done so far. We held our first Chamber Economic Development Meeting in January of this year. This meeting was attended by Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Lewis J. Yevoli, Deputy Town Supervisor Chuck Johnson, representatives from LILCO, the Massapequa Joint Council Civic Association (JCCA) President Gary Slavin, and our Chamber officers and its board of directors. All attending agreed that our ideas merited further action, with Supervisor Yevoli suggesting we get together in March for a breakfast meeting. At that time the development of an action plan will be the main topic.

Also in January of this year, the Chamber was a guest at the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, (NCCC) weekly WGBB evening radio program where we discussed our Community Business Revitalization ideas.

Every year the Chamber hosts an Annual Massapequa Town Hall Meeting, at which representatives of the local community, the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County government, and, various civic and service activities [e.g. local police precinct] attended.

The Chamber continues to take an active roll in the civic activities of the Massapequa's. This includes representation on the Massapequa JCCA, and the dual membership with other local organizations many Chamber members enjoy. Recently these activities have resulted in the Chamber's position on the Massapequa Flea Market Issue, and our joint efforts with the Seaford Knights of Columbus in providing our community with a Nativity Creche.

The Chamber regularly sends delegates to various Long Island Association and NCCC committee, board and member meetings. In addition, certain New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and Nassau County Village Official Association events are attended. The most recent event was the January 1995, NYCOM "Trends In Economic Development" Workshop, held in Garden City.

Going forward and in the immediate future, the Chamber will host the aforementioned March Economic Development Breakfast to be attended by Supervisor Yevoli, among others. This Breakfast is still in the planning stages as we are awaiting a date from Supervisor Yevoli on which he is available.

The Chamber continues its dialog with the Long Island Power Authority and its Chairman Richard Kessel, who has previously spoken before the Chamber membership, concerning the Rothschild analysis of the proposed LIPA acquisition of LILCO. This included recent attendance at a NCCC President's Breakfast at which Chairman Kessel spoke.

In summary, the Chamber has developed its Community Business Revitalization Action List used by us as a basis for discussion and as a way to quickly acquaint interested parties with where we think we need to go from here. This list includes three separate sections as follows:

  1. Necessary Cost Reductions: rents, utilities and taxes.

  2. Potential Types of Business to Attract: single owner, light manufacturing and service industry.

  3. And Related Concerns: available local, state and federal revitalization related funding; Community identity and its effect on the types of business to attract; crime prevention; establishing a centralized community business information clearing house; potential business diversification; and our community image.

Perhaps The Chamber of Commerce of The Massapequas, in concert with our local government, can achieve what larger groups have not...


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