Senior Essay Title: "Embedded Entrepreneurship: How Business Owners Navigate Industry City and Gentrification in Sunset Park, Brooklyn"
Adviser: Olav Sorenson
Abstract: Historically for its Chinese and Latin American restaurants, Sunset Park is experiencing a growth in artisanal coffee shops among other signs of gentrification. These changes have been associated with Industry City, a luxurious mall-like development on its waterfront. This thesis seeks to better understand these changes through the perspective of business owners, and answers two main questions: (1) how do business owners understand and respond to Industry City and Sunset Park’s gentrification and (2) why might these business owners differ in their views on these changes? It found that business owners in favor of Industry City praised the development’s revitalization of the area, role as a creative place, and generation of new customers and businesses, while those against worried about the displacement of longtime businesses. The rest voiced a blend of these points or remained neutral on the issue. A deeper analysis examining the business owners’ embeddedness suggested that those who could adapt to middle-class consumer demand and had weak neighborhood ties tended to support Industry City, whereas those who could not adapt to the new demand tended to oppose it; those who were conflicted lied somewhere in between—they could adapt to the new demand but had stronger neighborhood ties.