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National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

John Keating, manager of economic development for PSEGLI, announces initiative to invest in downtown areas during a press conference on Monday. Photo from PSEGLI

On March 28, in honor of Tuesday’s National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, representatives of PSEG Long Island met with public officials and business leaders at PJ Lobster House to announce an initiative to revitalize Long Island’s downtown areas.

Representing PSEGLI was John Keating, manager of economic development, and Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables. According to Keating, small business districts are the engine behind Long Island’s regional economy.

“We’re celebrating this National Mom and Pop Business Day by announcing that we are adding $500,000 to our programs for small businesses for 2022,” Keating said. “To bring more people into your downtown, we offer a main street revitalization program which offers $25,000 grants for anyone who wants to renovate that property and make it more appealing for people.” 

In addition to these beautification investments, PSEGLI will also offer a vacant space program. According to Keating, investments in vacant spaces are a way to remove blemishes from local business districts.

“We’ve all been to downtowns and when you see a lot of vacant spaces it really doesn’t make you want to spend a lot of time in that downtown,” he said. “We created this vacant space revitalization program to occupy a space that was vacant for at least a year and we can give you a discount on your first year’s energy.”

Voltz discussed the various improvements made through these grants by James Luciano, owner of PJ Lobster House. According to Voltz, due to this investment the restaurant now operates with greater energy efficiency.

“You see the beautiful lamps and chandeliers — all LED lighting,” he said. “LED lighting is very efficient. We provided a rebate of about $1,200 for all of the various LED lamps in this building and that’s going to save James about $500 each and every year.” He added, “It’s good for small business, it’s good for his expenses and it helps PSEG Long Island by reducing the strain on our electric grid.”

Small businesses are what give a community a sense of place and a sense of identity.

— Jonathan Kornreich

Luciano, whose business relocated in June 2021, said PSEGLI had offered him the vacant space grant, enabling him to save money on energy. According to him, this had provided much-needed relief to his small business at a time when it was most needed.

“We had PSEG come down to our chamber [of commerce] and they introduced the programs they had and we were able to take advantage of the vacant space grant, which actually helped us out tremendously,” Luciano said. “We saved over $10,000 the first year on the energy that we used. We were also given during COVID the outdoor grants as well,” adding, “Starting out at a new location, that money definitely goes a long way, so PSEG is definitely a great partner to have in the community.”

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D) thanked PSEGLI for supporting local businesses during their time of need. He welcomed the partnership between PSEGLI, local government and small businesses.

“Small businesses are what give a community a sense of place and a sense of identity for a lot of the families that live in those areas,” Kornreich said. “PSEG Long Island gets that and we appreciate you helping carry a lot of those businesses during the dark times of the pandemic.” He added, “Now that the pandemic is coming to an end, you’re helping to keep the lights on and we appreciate that.”

Mary Joy Pipe, owner of The East End Shirt Co. and president of Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, discussed the cooperation between the chamber and PSEGLI. She suggested that investments such as these require foresight and ingenuity to be successful. 

“A lot of foresight was given to how this could be an advantage for the small businesses in our community,” she said. “Thank you to PSEG for that foresight.”

To learn more about the grant programs offered by PSEGLI, visit the website www.psegliny.com/inthecommunity/revitalization.