Last week we mentioned the creation of a new Lower East Side group, the Association of Latino Business Owners and Residents (ALBOR). The organization’s founder, Enrique Cruz, made an appearance last night before Community Board 3’s economic development committee, to explain what the association hopes to accomplish.
Cruz, a commercial real estate broker who is also part of the team trying to open a new Latin-themed restaurant at 106 Rivington St., said, ALBOR’s motto is to “maintain and promote residential and business opportunities” for its members. At the meeting, he was accomanied by Warren Cohn, a consultant working with ALBOR and a member of a well-known Brooklyn political family.
Cruz said many current and prospective Latino business owners do not know where to turn for advice and guidance. The new group plans to provide a range of services, including help with identifying retail spaces, negotiating leases, securing financing and marketing. “The idea is to help unify the community,” he said, on the theory that there’s ‘power in numbers.” Cruz emphasized that the association plans to work in collaboration with CB3, as well as the Lower East Side BID and Good Old Lower East Side, a “neighborhood preservation organization” that specializes in tenant rights and social services. Recently he met with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who is the ranking Democrat of the House Small Business Committee.
He said ALBOR hopes to set up an office at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, where the inaugural meeting was held. The eventual aim is to charge monthly membership dues, although around 20 founding businesses will be providing financing for the organization in the early stages.
One or two board members asked whether ALBOR might be duplicating the efforts of existing groups. Cruz noted that Tim Laughlin of the BID was present at the first meeting and that he’s well acquainted with GOLES, having worked there as a teenager. “We want to help guide people,” Cruz added. “Lots of people don’t know GOLES exists.” He also told CB3 members that the group intended to become politically active, supporting elected officials who act in the interest of Latino businesses and residents.
During the controversy surrounding the 106 Rivington liquor license, supporters made it very clear they believed the community board had failed to take into account their deep neighborhood roots. Accusations of racism became an issue during and after CB3’s deliberations (the State Liquor Authority makes a final determination regarding the license today). Last night, CB3 member David Conn asked whether the 106 Rivington applicants were financial backers of ALBOR. Cruz said they are one of many supporters.
If you would like to contact ALBOR, here’s the group’s email: ALBOR4US@GMAIL.COM.