Brooklyn Chamber appoints Caserta as director of recovery, secures $1.3M federal grant
With Brooklyn’s 62,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs on the ropes again amid skyrocketing Omicron cases, ongoing worker shortages, rent debt crises and ballooning inflation, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has announced the appointment of a new executive director and $1.3 million in new federal funding secured by the organization to support small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The Chamber announced Mark Caserta as its new executive director of business recovery.
Caserta, a Brooklyn resident with more than 25 years of small business advocacy and public policy experience, recently led the Park Slope 5th Avenue Business Improvement District for nearly a decade and played a key role driving pandemic recovery efforts for more than 1,100 local merchants, retailers and landlords along the popular Fifth Avenue commercial corridor.
Caserta’s appointment was announced in conjunction with a $1.3 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant secured by the organization to expand its Small Business Recovery and Resilience Program counseling and financing services that have been essential to the borough’s struggling businesses that have faced financial crises over the past 22 months.
The grant, which was matched with $337,710 in local funds, is expected to help support businesses in creating nearly 1,000 new jobs and retaining 2,000 existing jobs across the borough.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Chamber has provided lifeline assistance to thousands of Brooklyn small businesses (many being MWBEs and immigrant-owned) that has kept them afloat during hard times, including $450,000 in recovery loans through the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, more than $85,000 in low-interest loans sourced through the organization’s private sector partners and $400,000 worth of PPE distributions.
“After thousands of hours my team and I have spent walking down miles of Brooklyn’s business corridors since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we knew that we needed to expand our framework for rapid recovery that leaves no business behind,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
“Brooklyn’s small business community is resilient and tough, and thanks to the $1.3 million federal grant and Mark Caserta’s skillset for boosting small business growth, we’ll be able to offer more small businesses the resources, programs, tools and direct support they need to survive and continue creating jobs and opportunities in our communities,” he added.
“It’s an honor to join a team that I’ve witnessed tirelessly working every day to bolster their neighbors’ small businesses, protect their community and evolve their services to comprehensively meet Brooklyn’s economic needs under enormously difficult circumstances,” said Caserta. “I’m eager to continue driving economic development in the borough I call home, where I’m raising my family and where I began my career as a small business owner and public policy advocate.”
“Mark Caserta has worked with his team to build the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID into one of the most innovative, connected small business communities in New York City. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Mark in his new role at the Chamber where his expertise will benefit small businesses throughout the borough,” said Kim Maier, Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID board member and executive director of the Old Stone House & Washington Park.
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