Mission & History
Evergreen was founded in 1982 as the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation (EWVIDCO).
Social service organization St. Nicks Alliance was approached by key business owners in the community including Henry Von Damm, whose family had been active in the area since the mid-19th century, to form a group that could address the significant issues facing the beleaguered industrial neighborhoods of East Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick such as vandalism and illegal dumping. With the convening efforts of St. Nicks Alliance staff and Manufacturer’s Bank (now part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.), business owners like Martin Greenfield got involved in forming an independent nonprofit dedicated to improving the business climate. With financial support from New York City through the In-Place Industrial Park program and pro bono legal counsel from Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, EWVIDCO was born.
EWVIDCO’s earliest services focused on improving public safety in the industrial neighborhood. We created a mobile neighborhood watch to patrol the area and interface with local authorities for enforcement. Businesses supported the effort and received signage to affix to their property to warn intruders of the extra protection. As the crime rate started to decrease, we became experts on the growing number of city and state incentive programs. We helped hundreds of growing businesses obtain tax benefits designed to defray the costs of expansion through the New York State Empire Zone program and the New York City Industrial and Commercial Incentive programs.
Over time, the State and City scaled back the availability of these incentive programs, obligating us to refocus our economic development efforts. When New York City created the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program in 2006 EWVIDCO was awarded contracts to provide technical assistance to businesses in the newly created Greenpoint-Williamsburg and North Brooklyn IBZs. We helped businesses find real estate, hire qualified employees, and obtain financing for business growth. We also expanded our advocacy work, both for individual businesses seeking assistance with government agencies as well as for the community as a whole, particularly on land use issues.
As the 2008 recession hit, funding was obtained that year from City Council Member Diana Reyna’s capital allocation to purchase our first property at 108 Dobbin Street. This 10,000 square foot warehouse was followed by the acquisition of three adjacent properties on Cook Street between 2009 and 2012, and a fifth was added in 2019. In addition to providing tenants with lower than market-rate rents, the income allows our organization to reinvest in expanding programming - which grew significantly in the 2010s. We increased our one-on-one technical assistance and developed new offerings to meet the needs of our rapidly changing business community. The Small Food Producers Network, a dedicated channel of events, seminars, workshops, newsletter, and for several years an executive leadership training cohort, was launched to great success and brought many of the newest wave of small entrepreneurial manufacturers into the fold. This was followed a few years later by the Design/Fabrication Network, and educational programming has become a year-round staple ever since.
The Evergreen Inc. name
In 2015, EWVIDCO adopted a new name: Evergreen Inc.: Your North Brooklyn Business Exchange. Our new brand encapsulated the progress made by the organization and affirmed our commitment to our core mission of protecting and promoting industrial and manufacturing interests. What this looks like in 2022 is a rich tableau. Evergreen offers a wide array of direct business services and a full slate of educational opportunities and throws the best parties in North Brooklyn every quarter. The advocacy efforts of the organization are as focused on our community as they were forty years ago, but we count among our coalition a wider array of partners, including our citywide brother and sister organizations, politicians at all levels of government and other like-minded non-profits such as the Newtown Creek Alliance. This latter group is a crucial ally, as environmental issues become more and more prominent. We were the first responders to local businesses in the watershed after Hurricane Sandy and have been an active participant on the Newtown Creek Superfund Community Advisory Group for over a decade.
The neighborhood has changed a lot from the early days when people needed a security patrol and property couldn’t be given away. The industrial market in North Brooklyn is among the most expensive of any manufacturing-zoned land in the City and questions remain as to how it might get rezoned – an initiative Evergreen participated in heavily over the last several years. Developers are increasingly looking to do mixed industrial-commercial projects following the 25 Kent rezoning and establishment of the Industrial Business Incentive Area overlay. We spent the last two years enduring a pandemic that reshaped the world. But it showed everyone something we always knew: industrial and manufacturing businesses are essential and play a vital role in the functioning of the City and an equitable economic recovery.