Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a $1.3 million federal grant to support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic and has created a new executive director role to do coordinate its efforts.
Mark Caserta will leave his role leading Park Slope’s 5th Avenue Business Improvement District, where he has been for 10 years, to join the chamber as its new executive director of Business Recovery.
Caserta is a Brooklyn local with more than 25 years of small business advocacy and public policy experience and he has played a key role driving pandemic recovery efforts for more than 1,100 local merchants, retailers and landlords in Park Slope, the chamber said in a press release.
In a statement, Caserta said he was eager to continue driving economic development in the borough he calls home, “where I’m raising my family and where I began my career as a small business owner and public policy advocate.”
“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.”
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers said the $1.3 million federal grant made it possible to expand the work the chamber was doing helping small businesses in their recovery and to create Caserta’s role, and with his skillset, “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.”
“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,” he said.
The grant is being put towards the chamber’s Small Business Recovery and Resilience Program counselling and financing services, that it says have been essential to the borough’s small, MWBE and immigrant owned businesses facing financial crises over the past 22 months.
The federal 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, the chamber said.