Last week, Manhattan community boards 9, 10, 11, and 12, representing East, West, and Central Harlem; Washington Heights; and Inwood, joined the Harlem Community Development Corp. and the Harlem Business Alliance to sponsor the Upper Manhattan Economic Summit.

About 300 people, including local elected officials, representatives of local community groups,  area residents and business owners, attended this five-hour event.  The goal was, “to look at proactive strategies to provide economic support and development opportunities for our communities in the current economic crisis.”

Elected officials and representatives from the Empire State Development Corporation provided a primer on how federal economic stimulus funding will be distributed in Upper Manhattan and New York State, and participated in a discussion with local experts about strategies for community activism to provide support for local residents and businesses. Although community boards do not have a direct say in what projects receive stimulus funding, they do have an opportunity to help local organizations and small businesses connect with funding opportunities. Because stimulus funding must be distributed and spent quickly, establishing local priorities can be key.

Senator Charles Schumer told the crowd that he has not seen an event like this anywhere else in the State.  Summit sponsors plan to create a white paper as a follow up, which can serve as a guideline for other boards or organizations that may want to sponsor such an event.  In the meantime, check out this site for a video montage.