By Rachael Eyler and Karina Gerry
Long Island’s lease availability recovered two points from quarter two of 2017, according to the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Market 2018 quarter one report.
Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) Long Island’s Main Street Revitalization Program may have contributed to the small decrease by assisting new local businesses to open their doors while also reducing vacancy rates in Suffolk and Nassau County.
“People can see when they walk into the bakery how much I have invested personally but also all round,” Baked by the Ocean owner Catherine Schimenti, said. “I didn’t spare any expense because this is what I want the next 20 years of my life to be. I am extremely grateful for the grant and the support.”
Baked by the Ocean, an eatery in Long Beach, opened this past July after receiving a 25,000 dollar grant from PSEG’s Vacant Space program. The grant allowed Schimenti to turn a hardware store destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and left vacant for six years, into her lifelong dream.
The revitalization program enables new small businesses to grow and become economically stable within the first few years of opening through grants and electric billing discount services.
“The first quarter the business would receive a 100 percent discount on their , then in the following quarter 75, then 50, then 25,” Stace Hansen, Business Adviser at the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College said. “They would start paying in the 2nd year the full amount.”
BUNZ, a new bakery opening in November of 2018 in vacant space formerly owned by MetroPCS, already benefited as a program participant by receiving the discount on the stores electric bill while renovating.
“Any business in the beginning can benefit on saving money, owner of BUNZ, Bonni Hipp said. The money that we are saving can go towards marketing and advertising on a larger scale to help grow our business and be more successful.”
With only 25 new stores receiving the grant and moving into empty spaces, Long Island is slowly seeing a change in the commercial office market.
The past few months the market has seen a healthy stability and the vacancy rate decreased minimally from with 4.3 percent to 4 percent commercial vacant spaces and 7.6 percent office spaces vacant 6.8 percent office vacant spaces at the end of the second quarter.
With the small decrease in vacancies, Long Island’s economy saw over 8.2 percent increase of consumer spending from local businesses and and a 6.3 percent increase in tax collections from the previous year, according to the monthly economic report by the Long Island Association.
Compared to the 2017 fiscal year, the local economy and small businesses that have built Nassau and Suffolk County, are expected to boost the economy over the next couple of years, Robert Fonti, co-chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers and Suffolk chairman of Long Island Business Council, said.
“This is not online sales, this is not going out of state,” Fonti said. “This is going in your backyard, to your neighbors, the people that cut your hair, the people in the supermarket. If we lose our downtowns we lose our economy. Small businesses made up this country and Long Island and you can’t become a big business without being a small business.”