Connected: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

The internet offers an infinite amount of opportunities for local communities to thrive. In Brooklyn, a taco shop, nonprofit theater, and an event space leverage the internet to empower their organizations and help take them to new heights.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and representatives from Internet Association member companies including Spotify, Uber, Lyft, and Amazon traveled to Crown Heights, a “busy, vibrant, and eclectic neighborhood full of Brooklyn old-timers and newcomers alike” in New York, to meet with local business owners and community leaders. Brooklyn-based Domo Taco, viBe Theater, and Berg’n participated in the crawl and shared how the internet helps their organizations connect with customers around the globe, to achieve their missions, hire new workers, and boost the local economy.

The internet helps local businesses and organizations create jobs, connect with consumers, and compete worldwide. IA’s Internet Community Crawls showcase the ways the internet drives economic growth and jobs in communities around the country. Watch what main street business and their elected representatives had to say about the importance of the internet to their local economy in Internet Association’s Connected video series.

The Crown Heights community is a perfect example of the way the internet helps a variety of groups connect in the 21st century. These businesses and nonprofits have blossomed from exposure to a more expansive and diverse public than ever before because of the internet. Rep. Clarke’s dedication to bringing these important issues to light by participating in this crawl is something to be applauded.

Melika Carroll, IA Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs
Congresswoman Clarke at Berg’N

It’s important for the Brooklyn community to be conscious of the use of the internet. How it binds us together as a community, because it has been the great unifier, it has been the great equalizer. It has given individuals, families and communities a platform for utilizing their talents, their skills and their ability in ways in which generations that preceded us have not had.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY)

Domo Taco

Domo Taco started out as a popular Asian fusion food truck that relied on Facebook and Twitter to notify customers of their truck’s location. Manager Thomas Yang said their success was instantaneous, and he has since opened two brick and mortar locations in Brooklyn. Now, Domo Taco relies on online ordering from companies like Uber Eats and Amazon Restaurants to bring in extra business that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

If the internet turned off tomorrow it’d be a struggle for us. We use a lot of things for the internet, our point of sale uses the internet, our orders come from the internet, we’re very reliant on it.

Thomas Yang, Manager of Domo Taco

viBeTheater

Aissatu Young (viBe Theater) with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

At our next stop we talked with viBe Theater Executive Director Toya Lillard. She explained that the theater is a nonprofit arts organization that works to empower young women by giving them the opportunity to write, produce, and perform original work. She noted that the internet helps provide their participants with an elevated platform to spread their message, stay in contact with alumna, and showcase their performances for a low cost to a global audience. Most of their social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, is run by girls in the group and lets them amplify their own voices.

Social media is a huge part of life of the organization and our social media is in part run by the young women we serve. Pictures, and quotes from them go on our social media pages. Our instagram, our facebook, our twitter. Policymakers should understand access to the internet really does level certain playing fields and that cheap or free access to the internet is literally a lifesaver for many, many communities in this country.

Toya Lillard, Executive Director at viBe Theater

Berg’n

At our final stop in Crown Heights we met with Berg’n General Manager Jen Watson. Jen highlighted the neighborhood’s need for a communal place where anyone can get a coffee or beer while also accessing the internet free of charge. Berg’n has become a bustling place with everyone from students to remote employees who need a place to convene.

The internet is not an option. This needs to be something available to everyone. Without access to it we are dramatically disabling all humans who don’t have the money to have access to the internet. We aren’t going to rise as a society if we don’t have access to it.

Jen Watson, General Manager Berg’n

Fun Fact: The internet economy supports 10 percent of New York’s economy and directly employs more than 216,000 New Yorkers.

Read more about our Crown Heights Crawl in the joint op-ed in Bklyner authored by Representative Yvette Clarke and Internet Association President & CEO Michael Beckerman.

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