While the expo was a great way for companies to network and build contacts, the chamber’s executive director, Jack Friedman, said the decision for the new location was a strategic one.
“We wanted to focus on the airline industry, so it made sense to do it in southern Queens by the airport,“ Friedman said. “All the industries that are affected by the airports are so important to this economy that the chamber wanted to make a statement that this is what we want to focus our attention on because I’m not sure we have done in it the past.”
The convention brought in over 100 local businesses who set up tables to spread the word about what they can offer the roughly 1,000 attendees last Wednesday, May 8.
By partnering with the JFK Airport Chamber of Commerce, Friedman said they not only wanted to reach out to the airlines, but the brokers, the freight forwarders, the cargo companies and all of the surrounding businesses.
“Today, people will identify new customers, customers will identify new things they may need and we’re out here as a facilitator and a matchmaker,” Friedman said. “I think that they are very happy when they see tech companies, marketing companies and professional companies and things they need to run their businesses.”
After a year of planning, JFK Chamber president Robert Caton said the partnership and larger venue brought out dozens of businesses his group would not have otherwise met.
“I actually haven’t been sitting at the table, I’ve been talking to a lot of people,” Caton said. “This thing has a whole litany of businesses in the JFK community, like printing companies and sign companies, and just swinging by they’ve been asking if you want to join.”
He added that other businesses might be surprised when building contacts with the airport community.
“I think people don’t necessarily see the airport community until they have to go take a flight,” Caton said. “They don’t necessarily see what goes on behind the scenes.”
Sandra Barron, a marketing associate with The Big Apple Circus, explained that the partnership with local businesses is important.
“We are a mom-and-pop circus, we’ve been here 35 years and we’re a founding circus here in New York City,” said Barron. “So working at a community level is really important to us.”
She explained that meeting the community at face-to-face events like the Queens Business Expo is a crucial aspect to keeping the show a relevant fixture in the borough.
“This type of event is a great marketing tool,” she said. “Without the community, this wouldn’t happen. They’re the ones that turn out to support us and we have to make our presence known.”