In 2019, the Department of Commerce is celebrating 10 years of the Storefront Improvement Program (SIP), a grant program that offers reimbursements for facade improvements on commercial properties. Follow along this year for more stories of SIP’s impact on Philadelphia businesses and neighborhoods.
For Dr. Ali Anaim, his business is about more than just podiatry—it’s about helping the residents of North Philadelphia however he can.
“We’re really busy because we service the whole community,” Dr. Anaim shares. “You have insurance or you don’t have insurance, it doesn’t really matter. We take care of the community.”
It’s not unusual to see people lining up outside of his practice on Mondays and Thursdays when he is working from this location. Dr. Anaim helps those who may not be able to afford a traditional hospital visit, simply asking that pay what they can.
“I fuse an ankle [at my] Collegeville practice and I end up with $2,000. If I fuse an ankle in Philadelphia, I may end up with $400,” he shares. “The [price] difference is huge, but the population is in need. I like to serve, I like to render care, and I like to give back what I have.”
When Dr. Anaim started his practice 20 years ago, he initially purchased one building that he worked to renovate. As his practice grew and the community’s needs continued to increase, he jumped at the opportunity to buy the building next door when another doctor retired four years ago.
“I reached out [to the Department of Commerce] and said, ‘I really need some help,’” Dr. Anaim expresses. He purchased this second building for $100,000, but the work that needed to be done to make the space operational was going to be costly. “Everything was collapsed,” he says.
His business is located in the American Street Empowerment Zone, a targeted area of Philadelphia where the City provides funding to support businesses and economic development. To help Dr. Anaim grow his business, Commerce helped him through three grants: the Storefront Improvement Program, the Neighborhood Economic Development Grant, and the Business Expansion Grant. These three grants allowed Dr. Anaim to make improvements to the exterior of the business, complete a substantial rehab and expansion, and purchase new equipment for the office.
“The City came through for me tremendously,” Dr. Anaim says. Once the improvements were completed, he was able to hire five additional staff members at this location—all from the North Philadelphia community he serves.
While he splits his time working in North Philadelphia, Collegeville, and Nazareth, the community in Philadelphia is his favorite. “I really feel a home when I come to this office,” he shares. He wants his patients at every location to have the same experience because, “Everybody deserves to come into a beautiful office and a beautiful location.”
Dr. Anaim’s North Philadelphia practice is located in the neighborhood that has been heavily impacted by the opioid crisis. His business is within the targeted area of the Resilience Project, a collaboration of 35 City agencies working to improve the health and safety of Kensington.
“The City has been spending an enormous amount of funding. 20 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine that Girard Avenue would look like this or Spring Garden would look like this,” he shares. “I think everything is moving in our direction and then we’re just going to make it better and healthier for the environment, for the people out there who live in this area.”