NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a free guide on Wednesday to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem where authorities say more than one third of small businesses have closed amid the U.S. recession.
The “Zagat Spotlight on Harlem” highlights 323 restaurants, nightspots, shops and attractions in the northern Manhattan neighborhood with food, decor and service ratings based on feedback from customers.
“Small businesses have been the lifeblood of the Harlem economy,” said Clinton, whose foundation is headquartered in Harlem. “Today many of them are struggling, as businesses are all over America, with the recession.”
“We hope the guide will not only showcase all there is to see and do in Harlem but drive more customers, residents and visitors alike, to visit Harlem establishments and spark the creation of even more locally owned businesses,” he said.
Lloyd Williams, president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce said that from July 1, 2008 to June 30 this year more than 35 percent of the neighborhood’s small businesses closed.
“The Harlem business community ... is in crisis,” he said. “What’s happening in Harlem is being felt even worse in the (New York City neighborhoods of) South Bronx and Brownsville and other sections of the country.”
Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms, but they have said they feel slighted by the Obama administration and efforts to shore up the economy with large companies taking much of the government’s attention and cash.
The U.S. Small Business Administration got $730 million this year to recharge the small business lending market, nearly doubling its budget. However, some say the package was not well structured and dwarfed by the $180 billion the government committed to save insurer American International Group.
The Harlem Zagat guide is sponsored by the Clinton Foundation’s Economic Opportunity Initiative and the Zagat Survey, which was founded in 1979. It is available for free at Harlem businesses and online at www.clintonfoundation.org.
“You haven’t done this town ‘til you have done it uptown, so do it up in Harlem,” Williams said.
Editing by XX
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