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Bronx business growth on a roll

Bronx Times

When Geri and John Sciortino opened Bronx Design Group in 1991, the married business pair made it known they were proud to be in the Bronx.

Little did they realize they’d someday become part of a statistic about a booming Bronx.

They illustrated their borough pride by intentionally adding “Bronx” to their mom and pop venture, a symbolic stamp of approval to a once-blighted borough.

“We were making a statement that we were proud to be here and be part of the resurrection,” recalled Geri, president of the thriving print shop, with clients that include the borough president’s office, Bronx Chamber of Commerce and even out-of-towners.

“When we started it was just the two of us, now it’s seven” said John, sitting as vice president of the small business firm where daughter Danielle, a company officer, works on putting BDG on the digital map.

Their family-owned business, having survived a recession, helped contribute to a 300% spike in established business ventures over the past twenty years, the fastest rise compared to other boroughs.

“The Bronx is on a roll,” said Jonathan Knowles, executive director for the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit thinktank that commissioned the report.

Overall, the borough saw 1,159 incorporation filings in 1991 to 4,690 in 2011, according to the report.

It’s not specified, however, whether these companies are small or large businesses nor whether they actually succeeded after their first year, considered a harbinger for any business looking to suceeed.

Still, Knowles points out business owners have taken a chance on the Bronx thanks to a steady crime drop, and business-minded immigrants eager to try out the American Dream.

“We find immigrants more entrepreneurial for businesses,” said Knowles, who suggests small-time merchants saw the Bronx as an “untapped market.”

“I think you’ve seen an explosion in neighborhood retail and local services business,” said Knowles, dubbing this time as the Age of the Entreprenuer.

The rise in businesses is certainly seen by Lenny Caro, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, helping businesses thrive in the borough through workshops and networking nights.

“In 2013 alone, the chamber has grown to 130 new members,” said Caro. “All business owners from small business to big business.”

Sciortino of Bronx Design Group has been a chamber member for the past seven years, also sitting as an executive board member.

“I get many new customers because I network a great deal,” she said, “so the Bronx Chamber is a great resource for doing business.”

As for whether the Age of the Entreprenuer will continue, Knowles believes it will.

“I think that more people than ever are considering entrepreneurship as a career option,” said Knowles. “I never seen this kind of activity before.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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