By Brooklyn Reader

March 20, 2015, 3:34 pm

 
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LaShawn Allen-Muhammad, Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Brownsville, Development, change, gentrification, housing development, East New York

LaShawn Allen-Muhammad, Deputy Executive Director for the Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Director of the Long Island African-American Chamber of Commerce Photo: The Brooklyn Reader

“Bedford-Stuyvesant is done,” said LaShawn Allen-Muhammad, deputy executive director for the Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation.

As far as commercial and residential real estate development in Central Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant is tapped out.

“And this is the next neighborhood,” she added waving her arms gracefully around her office, located at 444 Thomas Boyland St. in Brownsville.

And she should know. Born and raised in Brownsville, Allen-Muhammad has developed a sensitive nose to the neighborhood’s changes, both big and small. She also has spent a good part of her adult years advocating for Brownsville’s economic development. She has watched Brownsville—which has the highest concentration of public housing in the country—go from one that was largely dismissed as the city’s Ground Zero of economic depravity, to one teaming with real estate developers and speculators scoping out the scores of empty lots and abandoned properties that checkerboard the neighborhood.

But, she points out, one thing has always remained consistent, and that is the neighborhood’s strong sense of community. Now, with Brooklyn viewed globally as a premier residential destination and with the eyes of gentrification peeking above the fold, Allen-Muhammad says she has reinforced her commitment to making sure Brownsville residents end up on the right side of all of these changes.

“What’s interesting is that our elected officials in this district are adamant about resident self-sufficiency and working with the right developers so that the community is inclusive,” said Allen-Muhammad, referencing City Council Members Darlene Mealy and Inez Baron, State Assemblymembers Charles Barron and Latrice Walker, and State Sen. Jesse Hamilton. “I think we have conscious elected officials here in Brownsville.”

LaShawn Allen-Muhammad, Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Brownsville, Development, change, gentrification, housing development, East New York

LaShawn Allen-Muhammad in front of her office building at 444 Thomas Boyland Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn Photo: Photo: The Brooklyn Reader

Very recently, Allen-Muhammad was appointed the Brooklyn Director of the Long Island African-American Chamber of Commerce, a new position created, as LIAACC prepares to expand into Kings and Queens Counties. She plans to use her role in LIAACC to harness economic and human resources for black businesses around Brooklyn to help them open and grow, as the borough grows.

“It’s inevitable: Brooklyn is going to be the new mecca of NYC,” she said. “But we are are making a concerted effort to make sure we have some ownership in that development. You can’t avoid [transplants] coming into your neighborhood, but you can do something about how much ownership you have. Even if we concentrate on specific areas within the district, I think that’s the way to go.”

“In East New York, housing was developed first, then the community started looking better, and then Gateway Mall was developed, which has been a huge draw for businesses,” she said.

“I think we need to do the same thing here. Once we create a strategic community development plan, start to act on it and the neighborhood starts to change, it will attract more viable businesses.”

Allen-Muhammad admits, yes, the crime is still high in Brownsville. And yes, a lot of changes are still needed before businesses come running. But she says she’s hopeful.

“I’m from here, born and raised here in Brownsville, so this is always going to be home for me,” she said. “And there are a lot of people like me who feel the same way and who are committed to seeing Brownsville grow.

“Now, we are all collectively ready to go to the next level.”


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8 Responses

  1. Black Bishop

    Congratulations to you Ms. Allen-Muhammad and thank you for making sure that the economic opportunities don’t pass us by this time as has happened in the past! I hope our community is paying attention!

    Reply
  2. Reginald Swiney

    Good luck we maybe the first in the State of New York as a 100% black own African-American painting contractor to sign a collective baring agreement . Trade union in this state give us (hell) black in this state MBE program is run by the union . We work in your office building at 444 Thomas Boyland Street in Brownsville painting the probation office
    for NYC . Crime stop grow what people see on TV about our community why do business with them your district has a lot of construction going on we need a plan it not all about being and getting certify .The MBE program is a money maker a lot people who are black don’t do the right thing for black business let hope you do . We always help and work with black business .Our YouTube site will help you understand more about the MBE issue address rspaintingcoinc or reginaldswiney .
    God bless
    protect the world children
    peace on earth

    Reply
  3. mina

    What good news for this neighborhood! With Ms Allen-Muhammed, Cm and Assemblyman Barron and Senator Hamilton the outlook for development that deals the community in is great. Good for Ms Allen-Muhammed!

    Reply
  4. Chiffon abney

    integrity, honesty, vision and commitment are the ingredients for leaders. LaShawn, was created to answer the need for her beloved neighborhood and community as a whole.

    Chiffon Abney

    Reply
  5. AJ

    I really like your food yahoo but realistically speaking we all fall from seeing profitable black owned businesses in brownsville first reasonis that we are our own enemy being a homeowner in East New York crime is through the roof therefore banks are very reluctant to loan money to start businessessecond we do not support our own as African Americans we will wake up 4 o’clock a.m. to get online for sneakers and not wake up 9 o’clock to be on time for a job so until we can correct things with in our culture we are far from dictating which businesses will enter and exit in our own community. but let’s never stop hoping for a change.

    Reply
  6. Alonzo Hines,LMSW

    Congratulations LaShawn,

    Great things happen people with nartural talent such as yours. You were born to lead. Your undying faith and belief in people will forever guide you to do the right things, especially uplifting people economically. We are truly bless to have you. Let me know if and when I can be of help.

    Best wishes,

    Alonzo R. Hines, LMSW

    Reply

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