Seventeen local businesses and individuals, including two from Queens, were honored recently with a Neighborhood Achievement Award.
The recipients were lauded the ninth annual awards on Tuesday, July 13 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh, for excellence in improving their neighborhoods in New York City and supporting economic opportunity.
“Great cities are built on great neighborhoods, and I want to thank the awardees from Queens, George Kaufman and Formula “B” Parisien Beauty School, for their commitment to building strong communities, and creating jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers,” said Walsh.
Carmen Ledesma, the owner of the school, received one of the five Small Business of the Year awards.
After immigrating to the United States from Paraguay, Ledesma opened up a beauty salon in Sunnyside in 1993. Since then, she’s opened a second salon and a beauty school, which serves disadvantaged individuals and provides them with skills to succeed in the beauty industry.
Ledesma’s businesses now have nine full-time employees, and she is an advocate for English classes for foreign entrepreneurs and affordable healthcare coverage for small businesses in the area.
“Formula “B” Parisien Beauty School is a project of care. Our strength comes from our perseverance, because we believe in our cause,” said Ledesma.
George Kaufman was one of two recipients of the Leadership Award; given to prominent individuals in the local business community. Kaufman is the chair of the Kaufman Organization, a commercial real estate company, and Kaufman Astoria Studios.
When he acquired Astoria Studios in 1980, it was little more than a building in an underdeveloped neighborhood. Today, Kaufman has grown the business into the largest television and film production studio east of Hollywood. He was able to attract many businesses to the neighborhood, creating a nationally-renowned film and television destination in Astoria.
“Many of New York City’s local businesses and community members play a vital role making our neighborhoods great places to live, work and visit, and they deserve our recognition,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
The award was created by Mayor Bloomberg in 2002. A six-person selection committee chose the 17 winners out of more than 100 who applied.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the city’s economy,” added Sarah Krauss, Press Secretary of the Small Business Services Committee.