It’s the official launch of The Richmond Valley Merchants Association.  Members of the new business organization hope to promote local merchants in the Page Avenue, Richmond Valley Road and Arthur Kill Road Corridor.


“Within one mile of where were standing there's the most private commercial investment anywhere on Staten Island were doing great things down here this area is improving and developing at a phenomenal pace, said Joe Borelli, Councilman 51st District.


The idea for the Merchants Association was sparked by former Councilman Vincent Ignizio who approached the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation after talking to local store owners, like Pete Marcolini, about boosting business in the area.


“When we first opened my family thought we were crazy, this was very desolate when we were looking to rent and we did it.” said Pete Marcolini- Aunt Butchies Restaurant Owner.


To keep the momentum going, the association will plan events like restaurant crawls and family days and improve other services.


“We’re going to be hiring a street sweeper to trim trees, clean up area and make it beautiful for people to shop, we put up banners and holidays lights too,” said Jonathan Parente, Project Manager for the Richmond Valley Merchants Association.


The association received funding from the Richmond County Savings Foundation, former councilman Ignizio’s office and from local merchants.  Founders say it's just the first step.


"We're also excited to use this merchants association to begin lobbying the city for more resources specifically transportation, said Borelli.


But for now the primary focus is supporting local business.


“We'd like to attract more business to these mom and pop shops.. it's all about branding the neighborhood creating  an identity for the community,” said Parente.


The next event being planned by the merchant group is a food tasting in April, featuring local restaurants within the district.

For more information you can search their Facebook page Richmond Valley Merchants Association.