Merlino & Gonzalez - July 2020

July 2020




THE STATEN ISLAND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Helping Our Community Come Out Stronger on the Other Side

• Informing the efforts of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Small Business Sector Advisory Council on restarting the economy and city life • Guiding businesses through the application process for city and federal loans and helping them navigate services from other entities providing additional assistance • Overseeing two business improvement districts and five merchant associations representing nearly 1,500 small businesses and offering them daily assistance • Assisting our members, Staten Island’s major institutions, small and mid-size businesses, and participants in our Young Professionals Leadership Development Incubator with changes to their operations This program has already allowed us to help thousands with services they need to make their journey through this pandemic just a little easier. We’ve distributed 40,000 masks to businesses, provided social media services, hosted consultations, given funding application assistance, developed revitalization proposals, held public surveys, and much more — all in an effort to stand strong together. We do what we do because we so highly value the intricate role small businesses play in our community. These entrepreneurs make Staten Island a wonderful place to live and work, so we’re working hard to assist them however we can. This business community has endured 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, the 2008 market crash, and many more difficult obstacles. But time after time, we find a way through and come out stronger on the other side. The people of Staten Island and all of New York have some of the strongest spirits of will in the entire country, and I know that a year from now, we’ll be stronger than ever. If you’re a business owner who wants to work alongside us for that better tomorrow, then give us a call at 718-477-1400 and become a member of our incredible community. –Cesar J. Claro

Cesar is the president and CEO of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, an organization that I’m a member of myself. The SIEDC is an intermediary between government and private sectors to foster the entrepreneurial spirit on Staten Island. Cesar has recently been involved with helping Staten Islanders cope with the pandemic shutdowns and assisting businesses in surviving. He could help your business too.

In every borough in New York City, there’s an Economic Development Corporation, and we’re it for Staten Island. Our organization has four main functions: • We run programs that help existing businesses here and businesses who want to move to Staten Island. • We get involved in large infrastructure projects that benefit the businesses of Staten Island. • We have a membership program of over 220 members who pay dues for high levels of marketing, ticketing, sponsorship, and other useful tools and services. • We run large business events, conferences, and seminars specific to education, networking, and marketing for a variety of industries on Staten Island. Since 1993, the SIEDC has been a leading advocate for economic development. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and hit the state of New York especially hard, our world was turned upside down because the world of so many business owners was turned upside down. That’s why we launched our brand-new Reopening, Rebuilding, and Resiliency Program. It focuses on five major points: • Assisting businesses in addressing the economic disruption of the pandemic



‘THE GREAT ESCAPE’ The Daring True Story of an Allied Getaway During WWII

What do Steve “The King of Cool” McQueen, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner have in common? They all starred in the 1963 World War II classic “The Great Escape.” What makes the movie amazing to watch isn’t just that it’s full of legendary stars like McQueen and Garner or the fact that the action sequences were filmed using practical stunts, not special effects. What makes it truly incredible is that this story actually happened. Based on WWII veteran Paul Brickhill’s book, “The Great Escape” depicts a group of Allied officers as they attempt to escape from Stalag Luft III, one of the most heavily reinforced prison camps under German watch. Loose sand, raised prison housing, and seismographic microphones were all meant to deter prisoners from digging their way out. But one prisoner wasn’t discouraged. Squadron Leader Roger Bushell saw these factors as obstacles to overcome rather than inescapable conditions. And in the spring of 1943, he initiated a plan to get himself and 200 of his fellow prisoners out of the camp.

During the next year, over 600 prisoners helped with the effort of digging tunnels underneath Stalag Luft III. They had to be deep enough that the microphones couldn’t detect them and long enough to reach outside of the camp’s walls. On a chilly night in 1944 — a year after the endeavor began — one tunnel was finally ready, and the prisoners began their exit. In all, 76 Allied men managed to escape from Stalag Luft III. While freedom was short-lived for some, the escapees were successful in redirecting Nazi efforts from the front lines. And as veteran Jack Lyon said of the escape, “It did do a lot for morale, particularly for those prisoners who’d been there for a long time. They felt they were able to contribute something, even if they weren’t able to get out.” For the rest of the story, you’ll have to watch the movie or read the book. You can watch “The Great Escape” on Amazon Prime, and you can find Brickhill’s daring tale at most book retailers.


calm voice and simple explanations in each course help students feel encouraged as they work. The course comes with three hours of video content segmented into 25 modules and a Q&A section where students can post questions, ask for feedback, and share their work. Find this course at Ink Drawing Techniques with Yuko Shimizu A student who prefers ink over pencil can learn drawing techniques through Yuko Shimizu’s class on Skillshare. As a veteran instructor at the School of Visual Arts, Shimizu is ready to help you on your journey to learn the essentials of inking. In the 90-minute course, Shimizu covers a lot of ground, which both novice and experienced ink artists will benefit from. Find this course by searching for ink drawing techniques on New Masters Academy Known as one of the best art academies online, New Masters Academy (NMA) offers hundreds of hours of prerecorded video lectures that students can watch and follow along with as they paint, draw, and sketch. The standard fee starts at $35 a month, but with a premium membership at $44 a month, students can access NMA’s 3D reference library and over 20,000 reference images. To learn more and become familiar with the academy’s instructors, visit their website at

All forms of art, like painting, drawing, and even sculpting, can be relaxing hobbies, sources of extra income, or professional careers. And with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to begin learning a new art form. If you have an eager student at home who wants to try their hand in the arts or perfect their craft, then look into online art courses. There are many different courses available, and you should do some research to see which course is best for your student, but here are three to get you started. Drawing and Sketching for Beginners by Robin Slee This course is available through Udemy, and, at the reasonable price of $29.99, is perfect for anyone wanting to test the waters. Slee takes students through the key fundamentals of drawing, such as how to hold a pencil correctly and how to make different kinds of marks. His


HOME IMPROVEMENTS VS. HOME VALUE The True Impact Your Upgrades Might Have

If you’re considering selling your home, then you’re likely wondering what you should do in order to maximize your selling price. Fresh paint and new floors go a long way for the interior, just like clean landscaping enhances curb appeal. But not every dollar spent on home improvement will generate a worthwhile return on the investment.

• Rethink master suites that eliminate a closet or sacrifice bedroom space

Invest in wood floors

• Have low expectations for recouping any investments spent on a pool

Some surprising examples of home improvements that may actually decrease market value are:

The person buying your home expects to get a fair price for it, especially if they’re financing the purchase through a mortgage. If your home doesn’t appraise for a certain value, then their mortgage may not be approved. If their mortgage isn’t approved, then it’s likely the deal will fall through, especially if their loan-to-value ratio is very high. One way a homeowner can avoid this pitfall is by reducing their purchase price, but that sacrifices the return on the investments they made to improve their home. Ultimately, those home renovations that were done with good intentions are actually the root cause of many issues. It’s important to carefully consider the choices you make when it comes to renovating your home. Compare the value it adds in the short term to the value, because it could potentially detract in the long term. If you need further guidance with buying or selling a home, then contact our office today.

High-end, upscale kitchen renovations

Less-than-professional painting jobs

• Expanded master suites that convert the closet or another room

• Wall-to-wall carpeting

• A swimming pool

To combat the above, homeowners should instead try the following:

• Keep kitchen upgrades reasonably priced rather than installing top-of-the-line appliances or materials

Hire a professional painter


take a break



14 oz sweetened condensed milk

10 graham crackers, crushed

1 chocolate bar, chopped

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups whipping cream, chilled


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, graham crackers, and chocolate. 2. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat whipping cream until peaks form, about 3 minutes. 3. Fold whipping cream into the condensed milk mixture. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for at least 8 hours. 4. Serve and enjoy on a hot summer day. It’s especially delicious in a waffle cone!

718-698-2200 3

394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314


718-698-2200 | WE KEEP YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH How the SIEDC Is Helping Rebuild Our Business Community Page 1 Inside the Biggest Escape Attempt of WWII Taking Art Classes From Home Page 2 Home Improvements That May Decrease Value Homemade S’mores Ice Cream Page 3 The Wacky Evolution of the Knock-Knock Joke Page 4 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

The Wacky Evolution of the Knock-Knock Joke KNOCK KNOCK! WHO’S THERE?

Knock knock! Who’s there? Theresa. Theresa who? Theresa crowd!

Do you know Arthur? Arthur who? Arthurmometer!

Not very funny, is it? Well, over the years this style of back-and-forth jesting evolved into knock-knock jokes. The popularity of the “knock knock” bit of the joke could harken back to Shakespeare, who BestLife credits with “the first-known occurrence of a knock knock, who’s-there dialogue” in Act 2 of “Macbeth” (though it likely wasn’t intended to be funny), or it could be a reference to 1936 vice presidential hopeful Frank Knox, whose name made “knock knock” irresistible wordplay for the radio. Whatever the reason, knock knocks were all the rage in the 1930s, to the extent that people formed knock-knock clubs, businesses held knock-knock contests, and orchestras set them to music. However, the heyday was short- lived. In the following years, people started getting sick of knock knocks, and even psychologists turned against them. According to NPR, “people who loved knock-knock jokes were said to have social problems.” Today, knock-knock jokes are still around, but they’re mostly considered a game for kids or demoted to the realm of “bad dad jokes.” Maybe you think that’s warranted, maybe you think it’s tragic — either way, odds are the format will continue to evolve and probably outlive us all!

Unless you’re living under a rock, odds are you’ve laughed, grumbled, or groaned in response to a knock-knock joke. You may have even told a few yourself before you realized knock-knock jokes had gone out of style in favor of sarcasm and memes. That’s because at their core, knock- knock jokes are a quintessential American experience — and the perfect homegrown fodder for International Joke Day, which falls on July 1. But where did they come from, and why do so many people knock the knock- knock joke today? Well, according to NPR, knock-knock jokes have had a roller coaster of a history. Near as we can tell, they actually evolved from another kind of joke: the “Do You Know” joke. This style of joke was popular in the early 1900s, and according to an Oakland Tribune article NPR dug up, this was a typical one: 4

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