Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.

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  • Connecticut Business Program Helps Owners Scale

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    STAMFORD, CONN. (WCBS 880) — A business development program in Connecticut has had a strong track record of helping mostly female business owners improve their operations and scale.

    For 25 years, the Women’s Business Development Council of Stamford has provided operational and marketing training to business owners at all stages.

    “One of the most common problems we see with entrepreneurs is they’re not charging enough, and women entrepreneurs in particular are not paying themselves, which makes it particularly difficult if they want to scale their business down the line,” said Carol Cheswick, a WBDC advisor and entrepreneur.

    Cheswick joined her mentee Annya White-Brown of NaturalAnnie Essentials on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, to discuss the resources available to business owners through the WBDC.

    “The WBDC is focused on helping women and men become empowered financially through education, through understanding the opportunities and how they can grow their business and really understand what the different tools are that they can use to help build their businesses,” said Cheswick.

    The advisor calls White-Brown a “natural marketer.” She took a nine-week course through the WBDC to improve her grasp on budgeting, margins and other core financial elements of her business.

    “You got to look at the numbers to see your past activities, to see how you’re going to profit as a business and move forward,” said White-Brown, continuing, “Those numbers are crucial in how you market your business. Those numbers are crucial as to how you stay in business. So having to go through that every week was really good.”

    White-Brown started NaturalAnnie Essentials as a skincare business in 2015 after she developed a home remedy for her daughter. In 2019, she introduced candles.

    “About a year later, candles was all that we were selling. So, we had to make that decision to move forward with what was working best,” she said.

    Most of NaturalAnnie Essentials’ sales are via their website. White-Brown also created a “candle bar” called Sip & Pour where customers can make their own candles.

    “It’s a BYOB event. So, they bring their own beverage, food, if they’d like, and they make candles and have a great afternoon.”

    White-Brown is planning on applying to a new $10,000 grant offered by the WBDC for businesses in existence for at least two years with at least $25,000 in sales that have identified a specific traceable need that will help them scale.

    See more on the Women’s Business Development Council on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • Brooklyn Store Owner Launches Concert Series, Sees Sales Growth after COVID

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A Brooklyn store owner has found creative ways to grow during the pandemic.

    Doug Grater took advantage of lower rents during the pandemic shutdown and moved his Something Else apparel store in Park Slope one block from its original location in a residential neighborhood to the corner of Fifth Avenue and Union Street that is once again flooded with tourists.

    “Union is turning into a major thoroughfare,” Grater said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    He pointed to the proximity to Prospect Park and the subways as one reason he was confident in the move he first described to WCBS 880 in May 2021. Now, many bars and restaurants are opening on Union.

    “I believe in New York City, I believe in the street traffic, and I believe in people walking down a street for a AAA location and that’s what I pay for,” he said.

    "I believe in New York City, I believe in the street traffic," Grater said
    “I believe in New York City, I believe in the street traffic,” Grater said. Photo credit Doug Grater

    Grater recently invested in a fully hand-painted storefront, which has attracted more people inside the store.

    People in the community are also rushing to the gates to enjoy free weekly concerts outside Something Else.

    Grater told WCBS 880 he came up with the idea while riding his bike around his Brooklyn neighborhood one day during the height of the pandemic and saw a band playing in the street to no one. He invited them to perform when COVID restrictions in the city were eased.

    Grater recently invested in a fully hand-painted storefront, which has attracted more people inside the store
    Grater recently invested in a fully hand-painted storefront, which has attracted more people inside the store. Photo credit Doug Grater

    “We pretty much built a venue outside called the Something Else Concert Series,” the retail owner said. “We’ve probably had over 50 shows with all different local bands and it’s become a real success.”

    Grater said that experience is his way of giving back to the community.

    See more marketing and growth ideas on the Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • MIDTERMS 2022 LIVE UPDATES: Lee Zeldin concedes to Kathy Hochul

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    Executive Produced by Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — Midterm election results are continuing to roll in Wednesday. In New York’s closely watched governor’s race, Gov. Kathy Hochul declared victory over Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin, who conceded but said the “rescue mission to Save Our State continues.”

    2 p.m. — Lee Zeldin concedes to Kathy Hochul

    Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin conceded to Kathy Hochul in the New York governor’s race on Wednesday.

    Here is Zeldin’s full statement:

    “I would like to congratulate New York Governor Kathy Hochul on her election to a full four year term.

    “This race was a once in a generation campaign, with a very close margin in the bluest of blue states. The unrelenting passion and hard work of our grassroots volunteers and supporters made this incredibly close race possible and helped us win at least 49 of New York’s 62 counties. Republicans, Democrats and Independents united as New Yorkers, pouring their heart and soul into this campaign.

    “Those controlling Albany should take note. New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the attacks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms and the quality of their kids’ education and are hitting their breaking point, as proven by these results. As they take office in January, Governor Kathy Hochul and those controlling Albany must address the grave concerns voiced by the voters. While this campaign has come to a close, the rescue mission to Save Our State continues.”

    There hadn’t been a governor’s race this close in New York in 30 years, with Hochul only leading Zeldin by about five points in the traditionally deep-blue state. And while Zeldin lost, his message appeared to resonate in New York City’s suburbs, where Republicans had a strong showing Tuesday and helped the GOP in its effort to take control of the U.S. Congress.

    1:30 p.m. — Lee Zeldin will reportedly concede to Kathy Hochul

    Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin will reportedly concede to Kathy Hochul in the New York governor’s race.

    Zeldin’s campaign told the New York Post that Zeldin planned to concede Wednesday afternoon.

    Hochul declared victory Tuesday night after some news organizations called the race for her, but Zeldin had yet to concede as of Wednesday.

    He said he wanted to wait for all the votes to be counted and also predicted “massive” votes would come in for him from Long Island, where he lives.

    Hochul was leading Zeldin 52.5% to 47.5% as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, with 94% of precincts reporting. The outcome was fairly close for New York, which hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 2002.

    For comparison, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo won a third term against Republican Marc Molinaro in 2018 with nearly 59.6% of the vote to Molinaro’s 36%.

    12 p.m. – Tom Kean Jr. flips House seat in NJ, beating Tom Malinowski

    Two-term Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski conceded to Republican Tom Kean Jr.

    The Associated Press hasn’t officially called the race for NJ-07, but Malinowski congratulated Kean Wednesday on Twitter.

    Kean appeared to already claim victory in the race on Tuesday night.

    The district had picked up more Republican voters after its boundaries in the northwest were redrawn.

    Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski
    Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski. Photo credit Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com, North Jersey Record via Imagn Content Services, LLC

    Malinowski cast Kean as too reliant on support from voters loyal to former President Donald Trump to represent the district, which swung from reliably GOP to Democratic control during Trump’s years in the White House.

    Kean had seized on inflation as a top issue and hammers on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he is betting is unpopular with voters.

    This year’s race was a rematch of sorts. Malinowski narrowly defeated Kean, a former state lawmaker and the son of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr., in 2020. Malinowski first won election by defeating Republican incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018.

    10:55 a.m. — Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney concedes in Hudson Valley race

    U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceded his Lower Hudson Valley district NY-17 to Republican state Assemblyman Mike Lawler. His loss is seen as a major blow for the Democrats.

    Maloney’s campaign said the congressman conceded in a phone call. The Associated Press has called the race for Lawler.

    Former President Bill Clinton and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) embrace during a rally at Nyack Veteran's Memorial Park on October 29, 2022 in Nyack, New York
    Former President Bill Clinton and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) embrace during a rally at Nyack Veteran’s Memorial Park on October 29, 2022 in Nyack, New York. Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

    Maloney, who was the first openly gay New Yorker elected to Congress, had a track record of winning in a Republican-leaning district, but the state’s redistricting plan put him in a reconfigured territory where fewer voters know him.

    National Republican groups, sensing an opportunity, spent millions on advertisements supporting Lawler, a former executive director of the state Republican party who worked in local government before his election to the Assembly in 2020.

    7:15 a.m. — Republicans win several House races in NYC suburbs

    Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives notched several wins in New York City’s suburbs, seizing a seat in an area once considered safely Democratic, defending others and appearing on the verge of picking up additional wins in districts the party hasn’t won in years.

    By early Wednesday, Republicans had won at least seven seats in Congress from New York, just one less than their current representation in the state’s delegation. They were leading or within a percentage point of the lead in five more races.

    The strong showing by Republicans on Long Island came after the city’s suburbs emerged as an unlikely battleground for control of the House. Several closely watched contests remained too early to call Wednesday morning, including the re-election race of U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is facing Republican state Assemblyman Mike Lawler.

    Republican George Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in what was the first known congressional election featuring two openly gay candidates.

    Democrat Laura Gillen, an attorney and one-term supervisor of the town of Hempstead, was in a tight race with Republican Anthony D’Esposito, a member of Hempstead’s town council and a former NYPD detective.

    Rep. Andrew Garbarino defeated Democratic challenger Jackie Gordon
    Rep. Andrew Garbarino defeated Democratic challenger Jackie Gordon. Photo credit Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

    Republican U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino defeated Democrat Jackie Gordon in a race on Long Island’s South Shore.

    Republican Nicholas LaLota defeated Democrat Bridget Fleming in a reworked version of the congressional district now represented by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who decided not to seek reelection so he could be the GOP candidate for governor.

    In the Hudson Valley, freshly minted U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan, a Democrat, is trying to replicate his surprise win in an August special election in a race against Republican Colin Schmitt, a second-term state Assemblyman.

    The race appeared exceedingly close early Wednesday morning, but Schmitt nonetheless conceded, saying he hoped Ryan “will do great things for our Hudson Valley families.” The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the race.

    Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, is also leading a close race against Democrat Josh Riley in a sprawling new district that runs from the Massachusetts border all the way to Ithaca.

    11:49 p.m. — Some election night takeaways:

    Gov. Kathy Hochul’s projected victory over Republican Lee Zeldin is the big news in New York tonight.

    Also notable is Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis’ projected victory over Max Rose. Other New York races to watch are still too close to call.

    In Nassau County, Republican George Santos holds a slight lead over Democrat Robert Zimmerman for a U.S. House seat with 74% of the votes tallied. In Westchester, Republican Mike Lawler holds a six-point lead over Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    In New Jersey, Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer is projected to beat Frank Pillota for a Northern Jersey House seat.

    Nationwide, Peter Thiel-backed Republican J.D. Vance is projected to beat Tim Ryan for an Ohio Senate seat. The showdown between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia is neck and neck with 81% of the vote in.

    The Senate election between Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz is also extremely close with 84% of the votes counted.

    11:35 p.m. Republican J.D. Vance projected to win Ohio Senate seat, beating veteran politician Tim Ryan, Democrat Josh Gottheimer projected to take U.S. House seat in Jersey

    “Hillbilly Elegy” author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance beat Democrat Tim Ryan for an Ohio Senate seat, AP projected.

    AP also projected Democrat incumbent Josh Gottheimer won a contentious race in Northern Jersey against Republican Frank Pallotta.

    11:12 p.m. ABC projected Gov. Kathy Hochul to win New York gubernatorial race, defeating Republican challenger Lee Zeldin

    Gov. Kathy Hochul is projected to defeat Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, securing the governorship in the face of an unexpectedly close race.

    She will be the first woman elected governor in the history of New York.

    Zeldin, an ally of former President Donald Trump who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election as a U.S. representative, attacked Hochul on crime.

    Hochul, who became governor when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned, attacked Zeldin’s anti-abortion record after the issue took center stage with the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade.

    Hochul was able to carry the day and prevent what would have been the first Republican governorship in New York since 2007.

    11 p.m. — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defeated Beto O’Rourke, AP projects

    AP projected Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

    This is O’Rourke’s third loss in four years. In 2018 he lost a Senate race to Ted Cruz, and in 2020 he lost the Democratic presidential primary to Joe Biden.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a 'Get Out The Vote' rally at the Fuzzy's Pizza & Italian Cafe on October 27, 2022 in Katy, Texas.
    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a ‘Get Out The Vote’ rally at the Fuzzy’s Pizza & Italian Cafe on October 27, 2022 in Katy, Texas. Photo credit Brandon Bell/Getty Images

    AP also projected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will won his re-election campaign in California.

    10:33 p.m. — Attorney General Letitia James projected to win re-election

    Attorney General Letitia James won re-election by a comfortable margin, AP projected.

    James is declared the winner of her race at the Kathy Hochul election party in New York City.
    James is declared the winner of her race at the Kathy Hochul election party in New York City. Photo credit Juliet Papa

    James became a well known figure in New York as she investigated sexual misconduct and a COVID-19 death coverup from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was forced to resign in part due to her findings.

    She came to national prominence prosecuting several lawsuits against former President Donald Trump.

    9:37 p.m. — Nicole Malliotakis wins re-election, AP projects

    AP projected Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis won New York’s 11th congressional district, beating Democrat Max Rose for a second time.

    9:34 p.m. — AOC, Bob Menendez win re-election, AP projects

    AP projected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily won New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating Republican challenger Tina Forte.

    Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) campaigns with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on November 8, 2022 in New York City. Hochul holds a slim lead in the polls against Republican candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin.
    Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) campaigns with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on November 8, 2022 in New York City. Hochul holds a slim lead in the polls against Republican candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin. Photo credit David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

    Democrat Robert Menendez also won his re-election bid, AP projected, despite a looming federal investigation that follows corruption charges in 2015.

    9:00 p.m. — Polls close in New York, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wins re-election, AP projects

    Voting ended in New York at 9 p.m.

    AP projected Sen. Chuck Schumer won re-election in New York almost immediately after polls closed, defeating Republican Joe Pinion.

    Chuck Schumer named as projected Senate Majority Leader, his fifth term.
    Chuck Schumer named as projected Senate Majority Leader, his fifth term. Photo credit Christian Alexander

    This will be the Senate majority leader’s fifth term, making him New York’s longest serving senator.

    8:50 p.m.– Final touches are going up at New York Gubernatorial candidates’ headquarters

    Kathy Hochul's headquarters for election night.
    Kathy Hochul’s headquarters for election night. Photo credit Juliet Papa

    Gov. Kathy Hochul’s headquarters tonight is at Capitale in the Bowery where she will be awaiting election results and deliver a speech.

    Members of Lee Zeldin's party put the final details on the campaign stage.
    Members of Lee Zeldin’s party put the final details on the campaign stage. Photo credit David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

    Lee Zeldin’s party is at Ciprini’s in Hell’s Kitchen.

    8:30 p.m.: AP projects Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders wins election for governor in Arkansas.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders
    Sarah Huckabee Sanders Photo credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    8:08 p.m. — Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Marco Rubio both win re-election in Florida, AP projects

    AP has projected both Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio won re-election in Florida.

    8 p.m. — Polls close in New Jersey and Connecticut

    Voting is closed in New Jersey and Connecticut. Polls in New York will be open for another hour.

    Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut won reelection.

    7:41 p.m. — The RNC sued for an extension of polling hours in Arizona after voting machines caused delays in Phoenix, election deniers seize on issues to sow distrust

    The Republican national committee sued to extend voting hours in Maricopa County, which covers Phoenix, after vote tabulation machine malfunctions caused delays.

    “At least 36% of all voting centers across Maricopa County have been afflicted with pervasive and systemic malfunctions of ballot tabulation devices and printers, which has burdened voters with excessive delays and long lines,” wrote the plaintiffs in the complaint. “To remedy these consequential violations of Arizona law and derogation of the franchise, the Court should immediately issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.”

    Election workers staff the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on November 08, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Bill Gates, Chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, said that about 20 percent of polling stations in the county have had tabulation machine malfunctions, where some ballots cannot be read. These ballots, he said, are being set aside for tabulation at the central election center in the evening after the polls close.
    Election workers staff the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on November 08, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Bill Gates, Chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, said that about 20 percent of polling stations in the county have had tabulation machine malfunctions, where some ballots cannot be read. These ballots, he said, are being set aside for tabulation at the central election center in the evening after the polls close. Photo credit John Moore/Getty Images

    The lawsuit is asking the court to order polling locations extend voting hours from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    Maricopa County officials said about 60 machines were unable to tabulate votes across a quarter of voting locations in the county. Authorities said that 17 of those malfunctioning machines had been fixed by 2 p.m. — 8 hours into the election.

    Officials assured the public that all votes would be counted despite delays.

    Arizona was a hotbed for election denial and voter fraud conspiracy theories after the 2020 election.

    Prominent election deniers and former President Donald Trump have already seized on the voting machine problems to attack the integrity of the 2022 election.

    “Here we go again?” wrote Trump on his social media website. “The people will not stand for it!!”

    6:56 p.m. — The first polls in the nation close at 7 p.m.

    Voting ended in Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Florida closed at 7 p.m. — the first in the nation outside of a few select district in Indiana and Kentucky.

    Polls for New Jersey and Connecticut close at 8 p.m. and voting will go until 9 p.m. in New York.

    Nationwide, Republicans are pressuring Democrats amid backlash over inflation and the economy. Democrats are hoping to defend their thin margins in both houses of congress, often campaigning on abortion rights after the conservative-controlled Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

    Many contests, like the Senate race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia, have garnered national attention and donations as Republicans threaten to take back both houses of congress for the first time since 2018.

    Other notable elections include the Ohio Senate race between between Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance and the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz — better known by his television moniker Dr. Oz — and Democrat John Fetterman.

    What many thought was going to be a landslide win for current Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, who assumed office last year after Andrew Cuomo resigned, has become a tight race against Republican opponent Lee Zeldin, who is running on an staunch anti-crime platform.

    “We actually need to hire more law enforcement, mandatory forced overtime,” Zeldin told 1010 WINS just before election day. “Moving law enforcement officers from one beat to another is not the answer, but what we need to do is actually hire more law enforcement.”

    Crime has been a contentious issue for Hochul with a focus on New York City, especially in the subways.

    “I also tripled the amount of money going toward law enforcement in our budget,” Hochul told 1010 WINS. “And I’m sure Zeldin neglected to tell you that we have a bill on the floor of Congress to increase funding to support the police and he didn’t even show up for the vote.”

    The issue of crime is dividing for New York City residents but one voter told 1010 WINS he’s pleased with Hochul’s run so far.

    “I’m not as concerned about crime,” the voter said. “I feel like it’s blown out of proportion in the media quite a bit. I think the future of our country needs to turn to social issues in terms of the economy.”

    Rep. Nicole Malliotakis
    Rep. Nicole Malliotakis Photo credit Pete Marovich/Getty Images

    Other congressional candidates are facing off in tight races around the state. In New York’s 11th congressional district, which covers all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, Republican Nicole Malliotakis and Democrat Max Rose are up against each other again, a rematch of the 2020 election when Malliotakis took over Rose’s seat in the city’s only swing House of Representatives district.

    “I’ve also delivered million dollars to the NYPD for the canine unit forensic equipment, protective gear, so we’re delivering for the men and women who are trying to do their best to keep us safe,” Malliotakis told 1010 WINS about her efforts to address crime in the city.

    Rose, however, argues that Malliotakis has consistently underdelivered in her promises to New Yorkers and his plan will better serve the district’s residents.

    Max Rose campaigning
    Max Rose campaigning Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

    “We have got to get behind universal criminal background checks to make sure that the iron pipeline is shut down of illegal weapons storming into our city getting in the hands of the wrong people,” Rose said on 1010 WINS. “Nicole Malliotakis voted against checks in Congress. I would get behind the assault weapon ban, something Nicole also did not support. I would support increased funding in school security funding as well as mental health treatment, two things in addition that she absolutely opposed.”

    In the Lower Hudson Valley, redrawn House district lines opened up an opportunity for current Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to run for the 17th congressional district seat. His campaign has been focused on gun safety and abortion rights. Maloney is up against Republican Assembly member Mike Lawler who has been campaigning on the topics of crime and inflation.

    Sean Patrick Maloney
    Sean Patrick Maloney Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

    Mike Lawler
    Mike Lawler Photo credit Peter Carr/The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

    Over in Nassau County, New York’s 3rd congressional district race to replace Tom Suozzi is a tight, and historical one. Both candidates, Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos, are openly gay candidates, the first-ever political race in the country of its kind.

    The 3rd congressional district represents parts of Nassau County, Long Island and Queens. Santos joined 1010 WINS and argued that there’s a one party democratic control federal of the New York State governments which has left residents feeling left less safe. Zimmerman, however, sees it differently.

    Robert Zimmerman
    Robert Zimmerman Photo credit Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

    “Let’s remember this election is not about Democrat versus Republican,” Zimmerman told 1010 WINS. “It’s about mainstream values standing up to extremism. That’s really what defines the difference between George Santos and myself.”

    Santos, in line with other Republican campaigns this election cycle, is focused on crime and law enforcement funding.

    “I have been publicly, since the very beginning of the debate, made very clear of not only my strong opposition of defunding the police, I’ve been advocating increasing funding in the police,” Santos said on 1010 WINS. “And I think that is a very defining or critical point to be made.”

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  • Economic Headwinds Provide Business Opportunities in Queens

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There are opportunities for business growth in Queens as more residents move out of Manhattan over high rents in an economy battered by high inflation and its toll on cost-of-living expenses.

    Long Island City and Jamaica are among the areas where new apartment buildings are being erected.

    “There are approximately over 10,000 new apartment units coming to Downtown (Jamaica) in the next 24 to 36 months,” said Justin Rodgers, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    The Queens native said there will be a need for new restaurants, bars and nightlife.

    “So now, the focus really is to get mom and pop restaurants on side streets where rents could range anywhere between $30 per square foot to maybe $60 per square foot,” he said.

    Rodgers’ pitch to business owners is a line from the 1989 film “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” With greater density in the most diverse borough of New York City, he believes independently owned restaurants in residential neighborhoods would fare better than on Jamaica Avenue, where rents have soared to up to $250 per square foot.

    “Just before the pandemic, we had (a) very difficult time trying to attract our mom and pop restaurants to Downtown Jamaica, specifically, but you know, financing has now become an issue with interest rates increasing and it looks like the Fed is going to definitely increase rates once again.”

    The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has opened a new co-working space on Parsons Boulevard for hybrid workers in both the private and public sector.

    “We are finding that a lot of businesses in the healthcare industry we’re starting to attract to our co-working space, environmental firms we are attracting to our co-working space, as well as public affairs type of firms,” said Rodgers. “Most of these firms are either sole proprietors or have maybe one or two employees, but I would definitely say, specifically, healthcare is definitely somewhere where people definitely need to look into.”

    The JFK Revitalization Project is also providing opportunities for small and mid-size businesses in which minority and women-owned enterprises (MWBE) are prioritized for state contracts.

    “That’s a great opportunity for small businesses in Queens to try to figure out how to get involved with that project,” said Rodgers, who co-chairs the project’s business development committee. “It’s $18 billion worth of work and it’s not only on the construction side, you have professional services and vendors as well.”

    Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office predicts the JFK Revitalization Project will create more than 10,000 jobs.

    Rodgers told WCBS 880 he will help any small business owner who would like to apply. You can contact him through the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation at (718) 291-0282.

    See more on where to spot business opportunities in Queens on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • New NYC nightlife businesses symbolic of post-pandemic entertainment

    Posted by:

    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City is emerging from its pandemic slumber.

    New nightlife businesses are opening across Manhattan as people yearn for socialization and entertainment.

    “We’ve seen a lot of larger venues opening up that really have a focus on dancing,” said Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the city’s Office of Nightlife on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    Dance clubs are a callback to a pre-pandemic oasis.

    “In the past, there was an era that started from the large format dance and went into the lounge and then went into the bottle service, and now, I think there’s really a desire to be around people and to dance and to listen to loud music,” said Palitz.

    The hospitality industry has been the slowest to recover with jobs lagging behind the full national recovery. But, the Office of Nightlife points to positive signs after a strong summer and early fall with elevated demand.

    “We need to be around each other and to socialize and we got a glimpse of a world of what that meant not to be able to go out, not to be able to dance and not to be able to socialize with our friends and that is a world I don’t think anybody ever wants to go back to,” the city administrator said.

    Palitz, who owned and operated the now-closed East Village nightclub Sutra Lounge for 10 years, noted the hospitality industry is a vital economic engine driven by socialization.

    “I think the beauty of the hospitality industry job is that it’s historically been a great stepping stone for people who are going to college, who are in Broadway, who have a(n) aspiring music career. And I think as those industries also recover, so will the hospitality jobs that help to supplement incomes for people who are pursuing other dreams.”

    She told WCBS 880 her experience owning the Sutra Lounge taught her to make sure people feel seen and respected and that “their good time matters.”

    See more on the return of nightlife on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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