The owners said Sunday that the money is timely as black-owned businesses along Eglinton Avenue West, primarily between Marlee Avenue and Oakwood Avenue, have struggled since 2011 to stay open.
First, companies in the sector had to deal with the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown train. Recently, they have had to deal with restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 black-owned businesses have closed in Little Jamaica in the past five years.
It was a challenge, but I endured. I stuckSheryl Bryan Phillips, owner Judy Island GrillIt is a small restaurant serving authentic Caribbean cuisine.
2018 was our best year. Then, the epidemic struck.
Ms. Brian Phillips says she is starting to see familiar faces again. However, she would like to see more clients from outside the community.
Program funding grant
The grant, granted by the Southern Ontario Federal Economic Development Agency, made it possible to open an office of the Black Business and Professional Association [BBPA, Association professionnelle des affaires noires, traduction libre], a charitable, non-profit organization founded in 1983 that deals with equality and opportunity for the black community in the areas of business, employment, education, and economic development.
Although the grant was announced earlier this year, the office of BBPAIt opened last week.
Francis Delsol, the association’s executive director, said the grant will be used to fund programs for black-owned and black-run businesses in Little Jamaica.
The neighborhood was home to many people of Jamaican and Caribbean descent who moved to Toronto in the 1950s and 1960s.
Five years ago, there were more than 110 black-owned businesses. Today there are about 45 in the neighborhood.
We have seen a deterioration in society in terms of the number of firms. And we’re here to unite those who stayed and try to bring in more to bear the culture of “Little Jamaica.”Mrs. Delsol said.
It is important that not only Toronto but Canada understand the historical significance of this region. […] If we do not promote the sustainability of this crop, it will die.
Stuart Brown, owner of Reggae Cafe, a Jamaican seafood restaurant, said he believes a neighborhood marketing program should be established.
Brown added that he lost income while building the light rail because customers struggled to find parking. According to him, the grant will help neighboring companies.
Lots of Jamaicans come to this particular neighborhood, Little Jamaica, just because they have access to things on their island., He said.
The association also hired a marketing agency, Konvo Media, to help it implement its programmes.
With information from CBC News
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