Building Economic Development in East Harlem

by Alina Moran, CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan Hospital and
Dr. Judith Salerno, President, The New York Academy of Medicine

As co-chairs of the Buy Committee of Union Settlement’s East Harlem Community Alliance (EHCA), The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) and NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan are working with neighborhood leaders to encourage increased procurement from small businesses in East Harlem. According to the 2016 East Harlem Commercial District Needs Assessment, over $804 million is spent outside the neighborhood each year. Institutional buyers purchase in such large quantities and frequency that even a slight change in their buying policy can cause a significant impact, thereby increasing small business sales and creating job opportunities here in East Harlem.

You might be wondering, “Why are health organizations helping to lead economic development efforts in East Harlem? What does that have to do with health?” The answer is that economically vibrant communities are healthier communities—they support social and environmental factors that influence health such as access to fresh food, good jobs, and neighborhood cohesion. As an anchor institution with deep roots in East Harlem, Metropolitan is committed to providing high quality health services, and to helping neighbors and their families live their healthiest lives by supporting the local businesses and vendors that sustain the community. And creating access to opportunities for everyone to be healthy and live their best life is at the heart of NYAM’s mission and work.

(pictured above) Michelle Cruz of Buy Local East Harlem, Jo-Ann Barrett of Aromas Bakery, Kimber Bogard of NYAM, Alina Moran and Noel Alicia of Metropolitan Hospital, Linda Gomez of Boriken Health, Diane Kolack of NYAM, not pictured: Sandy DeLeon of Union Settlement and Pamela Abner of Mount Sinai Hospital. Photo credit: Sandy DeLeon.

Ways You Can Help

If you work in East Harlem, here are some ways you can help be a part of making this change:

  1. Talk to the person who does the purchasing at your organization and connect them with the Buy Committee of the EHCA.
  2. Share the Buy Local East Harlem directories with others at your organization.
  3. Use local restaurants for catering and meetings outside the office, including holiday parties and annual events—see the Taste of East Harlem Healthy Catering Guide.
  4. Consider buying corporate giveaway items (e.g., printed t-shirts) and holiday gifts from East Harlem vendors.
  5. Communicate the value of buying local! Learn more from Buy Local East Harlem and spread the word.

Other work of the Buy Committee includes supporting the work of Union Settlement’s Buy Local Initiative, which provides training, workshops, and direct assistance that builds the capacity of small businesses to meet the volume and service needs of large institutions. It’s another important initiative that contributes to the vibrancy and health of East Harlem.

For updates and upcoming events, follow the Buy Local East Harlem initiative here: Facebook @EastHarlemBuyLocal; Instagram @BuyLocalEastHarlem; and Twitter @BuyLocalEast.

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