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James Gorman is playing Santa Claus to New York City’s struggling street food scene, which has been devastated by the pandemic.
The CEO of Morgan Stanley said the bank has committed $2 million to keep the city’s street vendors afloat on top of a $375,000 donation from the Robin Hood Foundation, founded by hedge funders like Paul Tudor Jones, the bank and brokerage house announced Wednesday.
The $895 billion firm wants to ensure these mostly minority-owned businesses, many of which were excluded from coronavirus relief funding, are still around when the pandemic ends and New York-metro area workers return to work.
“New York City street vendors are a central part of the cultural fabric of New York City,” Gorman said in a statement. “With our headquarters in Times Square, many of our employees rely on these vendors for their morning coffee or a quick lunch.”
The city’s more than 20,000 vendors contribute an estimated $293 million to the Big Apple’s economy on an annual basis, according to Morgan Stanley’s data. But the pandemic, which has obliterated tourism and emptied out offices, has resulted in reported losses of up to 90 percent, the bank said.
More than three-quarters of these vendors, or 76 percent, are now struggling to pay fines, garage rental costs, and vending permit increases and have been forced to borrow from friends and family or pawning assets, the bank said citing a survey by Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing + Organizing in collaboration with the Street Vendor Project.
The bank said it and Robin Hood will work with the Street Vendor Project to identify the neediest vendors and help them pay their rent, utilities, and food until the city is once again filled with busy pedestrians looking to grab a hot dog or cheap cup of coffee.
Morgan Stanley’s Times Square headquarters puts the bank in the epicenter of the city’s vendor food scene.
Gorman, who tested positive for COVID in March, is also calling on other bankers to join him.
“We are proud to work with Robin Hood and the Street Vendor Project to provide economic relief to vendors during a critically difficult time,” he said. “And encourage others to join us in this important mission.”