THE BRONX - Bronx business owners held a forum Wednesday evening to question candidates looking to fill the empty seat of Bronx borough president.

The position was left vacant in March after Adolfo Carrion was offered the job of urban affairs director with the Obama administration.

Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. and Anthony Rubustello answered tough questions posed by the heads of 12 merchant groups from across the borough during the meeting held at the Hutchinson River Metro Center's amphitheatre.

The forum revolved around economic development in local business centers like Westchester Square, Burnside and Jerome Avenue. Another controversial issue that was addressed at the forum was the creation of the Gateway Center, and how the center may pose a problem for many local small-time entrepreneurs.

The special election of Bronx borough president will be held April 21.