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Using the power of design to counter displacement in East New York

“Small businesses are more geared to help their community, talk to people about their needs, their health plan or what not. I’ve been doing that for 20 years. My business is to be customer friendly.” – Bob Filippi, Lawrence Pharmacy


The Local Development Corporation of East New York sought to grow a network of proactive small business owners and community leaders, and enhance its services and programs within East New York, a historically underserved neighborhood. This project derived from 2015 Neighborhood Challenge Grant supported by NYC Small Business Services (SBS) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) to encourage innovation, support community and economic development, and solve local business challenges through innovative thinking.

Community-centered approach

We applied participatory processes to identify ways for neighborhood-owned and run businesses to remain and thrive in an area slated for large scale redevelopment. In collaboration with AIGA/NY and WeShouldDoItAll, we fostered collaborations among local community development and arts advocacy organizations to ensure the project was a culturally relevant tool for service providers to equip small businesses with vital information and collaboration during a time of rapid change. To ensure project outputs would be effective, 3×3 conducted design research to capture the needs of small businesses, and understand how businesses share and gather crucial information. This information was synthesized and translated into a report to guide the project’s design deliverables and ensure the project team could effectively address context-specific challenges and execute the campaign with a strong network of local community partners.


  • Community surveys
  • Stakeholder alignment workshops and roundtable discussions
  • Socio-spatial analysis
  • Co-design sessions


  • Development of a series of design directives, design tools and outreach strategies for partners to promote local resources for social impact, stimulated collaboration among organizations, and developed a platform for small businesses to organize and advocate for their needs
  • Community-centered communications platform, including an SMS tool to shares critical information among small businesses and a public poster series highlighting small business leaders and their impact
  • Strategy for neighborhood and digital placement to maximize visual impact for the client and the small business community