Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association, hosted the event at Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue to show how restaurants, small businesses and other companies have integrated the internet into their model.
“We’re doing these all around the country in various congressional districts, in small towns and big cities like here in Brooklyn, to tell the story about how the internet creates jobs in the brick-and-mortar economy,” Beckerman said. “The reality is that non-tech businesses in mainstream America around the country, and here in Brooklyn, are growing.”
Innovators and business representatives from companies like Facebook, Google and others joined Beckerman, Borough President Marty Markowitz and Congressman Hakeem Jefferies for cheesecake at Junior’s before touring Downtown Brooklyn.
“The Internet is not replacing individual interaction and can’t replicate sitting down for a meal at Junior’s,” Beckerman assured. “It’s not a substitution, it just supplements it.”
One stop along the crawl was The Hope Program at 1 Smith St., a not-for-profit employment agency utilizing and providing skills in computer literacy, math, workplace communications and a number of tools for getting people back to work in underserved communities for nearly 30 years.
Irene Camp, development director, joined the group of web innovators to discuss the relevance and importance of integrating into the modern age of web-based technology.
“We have a wide range of people and what they all share is a real commitment to making a change in their lives and entering or reentering the workforce,” she explained.
Camp said the Internet runs through her company’s veins, playing a vital role in communication with referral partners about when programs start, letting clients know how to get involved and performing online assessments to help people find a suitable career path.
She added that 72 percent of their graduates secure employment, 74 percent of which find jobs in the following year.
“Our students, even with the most basic access to the workforce, depend on the ability to use the Internet,” Camp said.
The crawl also included a stop at the GenSpace Lab at 33 Flatbush Ave.
“We had rotary phones when I was growing up, and going from rotary to touchtone was a big exciting, technical move forward,” Markowitz said. “Whether it’s on the little screen, big screen or on our watch, whatever the case may be, there is no question that the Internet is the way, increasingly, the world will do business.