A pair of recent articles in the Westchester County Business Journal highlight the positive impact that New Rochelle’s Business Improvement District (BID) is having on our downtown.

Ralph DiBart announcing receipt of a Main Street Grant for Downtown BID Facade Improvement Program last month.

The first, a profile of Ralph DiBart, executive director of the BID, promotes the multiple lines of support the BID offers business and property owners in New Rochelle: grants to convert unused space into artists’ studios, matching grants for facade improvements, and assistance for entrepreneurs like Rhonda Hamilton, who is opening a store for her handcrafted art on Division Street this spring. DiBart notes that even in a recession, “we have property owners investing on Main Street. This is a beehive of investment by small and mid-sized businesses. This is how economic development is done.”

The second is an editorial that explicitly praises the BID’s success at renewing New Rochelle’s downtown without the influx of money that can come from new development. “New Rochelle is one shining example of a city on the move,” say the editors of the journal, who note approvingly that the BID’s recent award of a $500,000 New York State Main Street Grant for its Facade Improvement Program is a sign that DiBart and the BID are “doing it right.”

As I have often said, New Rochelle’s downtown has a long way to go before it achieves its potential, and we’ve got many problems to solve, but the successes profiled by the Business Journal give us good reason for optimism.