The fight to maintain the balance between the residential boom and industrial sector in Long Island City got a helping hand from the City Council.
The Long Island City Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), which is one of many dedicated manufacturing sectors in a citywide initiative that focuses on preserving industry, received nearly 25 percent more funds from the city this year than 2014, a total of $100,946.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer allocated the funds and made the announcement on Monday among business owners, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso of Brooklyn and Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the nonprofit Long Island City Partnership, which oversees the LIC IBZ.
“This year we fought really hard, and I wanted to make sure that we were able to increase funding so that Liz Lusskin and her amazing team could help all of these businesses grow and we maintain these areas and not take them for other uses,” Van Bramer said.
Last year there was talk that the IBZ program could lose money. But Van Bramer said Reynoso lead a charge in the City Council to support the initiative.
In addition to the extra financial support, the LIC IBZ will return to assisting an area with just six ZIP codes, as opposed to the widespread 16 ZIP codes it was tasked to help last year — including many outside its district. This will allow administrators more flexibility to focus on the 2,095 businesses in its immediate area, instead of 4,535 companies.
“Instead of spending an hour sitting on a train to go to a business in Flushing, we can spend an hour walking the halls of the Falchi Building knocking on doors, seeing if we can provide help,” Lusskin said.
The money from the City Council is separate from the recent $100,000 grant the LIC Partnership received from the New York City Regional Economic Development Council to perform a comprehensive neighborhood study.
This new batch of money will provide resources for manufacturing businesses, such as help to apply for city tax credits, filing permits and even dealing with neighborhood issues. The IBZ will also help businesses network with each other.
The Long Island City Partnership hopes through servicing businesses, they can entice companies to stay and expand in Queens, and convince others to move into the area.
Officials cited jewelry maker Unique Settings of New York, which is now located at the Falchi Building in Long Island City, as an example of what they are trying to accomplish. Eight years ago, the company was leaving its 9,000-square-foot Manhattan space for a location in New Jersey.
But Unique Settings moved to Queens after the LIC IBZ helped get city tax credits and found the space they needed to expand.
The firm now has about 65,000 square feet on one floor of the Falchi Building and 200 employees.
“We talked to them, they guided us through the program and basically held our hands through the whole process,” said Matthew Ego, co-owner of Unique Settings. “One less thing you have to worry about is making sure that you’re going to be able to stay and grow.”