Commerce Director Harold T. Epps continued his ongoing tour of the City’s many commercial corridors on Friday, May 5 when he visited K & A (the intersection of Kensington & Allegheny Avenues) to check out some of their businesses. To find out more about what it’s like to do businesses on the K & A corridor, we talked to Wendolyne David from the Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services.
What is your role within the Department of Commerce and how do you work with the K & A neighborhood?
I work as a Business Service Manager with the department’s Office of Business Services. In my position, I work closely with business owners and community members who are playing a role in the revitalization of Kensington.
What are some of the specific services you offer to businesses?
I visit K & A as much as possible in an effort to get to know the business owners and inform them about the many programs that Commerce has to offer. Our Storefront Improvement, Business Security Camera, and InStore forgivable loan programs are among the most used in this neighborhood. I offer translation and assistance with permits, business licensing, SafeCam registrations, and other forms as needed. I also help connect business owners with resources from our partner organizations like the Impact Loan Fund, FINANTA, WORC, the Merchant’s Fund and many others.
What can a new business looking to open up shop in this area expect when they call you? How are you helping these interested businesses join this community?
When I’m contacted by an interested business, the issues that I am usually asked to assist with are those related to licensing and permits. Because I am bilingual in Spanish, I can also assist with some of the language barriers that exist for business owners in this neighborhood.
Why K & A? Why should businesses choose this area, and what unique attributes does this district have to offer customers?
As anyone can tell you, one of the city’s best assets is the Market-Frankford Line. We are seeing increased development around the El, and rides are up more than 50% at the K & A station. This area provides has great parks like McPherson and Harrowgate, as well as and recreation centers. There is also a PAL Center and schools which help provide consistent pedestrian traffic. K & A is an up-and-coming neighborhood with millions of dollars currently being invested in the community and along the commercial corridor.
What is your favorite story about businesses on this corridor?
My favorite thing about this corridor is the resiliency of merchants on Kensington Avenue. Through one of the worst economic downturns in the history of country, they stayed. Through the worst opioid epidemic our city has seen, they remain and continue to conduct business as usual to support their community. As Kensington catches up to Northern Liberties and Fishtown, their profile will continue to rise, that will be a story worth sharing with the whole city and beyond.