In fact, the industrial sector of Maspeth often gets overlooked and unheard by the local community board and borough, city and state agencies, says one nonprofit agency that is looking to change that.
The Business Outreach Center Network (BOCN) is on the ground in the area, putting in the legwork on initiating an association of industrial businesses. Jean Tanler, the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone coordinator at the BOCN, is heading the project.
“We want to restore an association for industrial companies in Maspeth,” she said. “Since West Maspeth Local Development Corporation’s Frank Principe passed away seven years ago, the organization folded and after that there has been no activity.”
She and BOCN are helping the industrial sector regain the voice they once had in the community by creating a Maspeth Industrial Business Association.
On Tuesday, March 15, a meeting was held at Davis and Warshow, bringing together 16 of the larger industrial companies in the area. The current aim is to form a steering committee and then initiate a membership drive to bring in committed members.
The meeting focused on concerns ranging from problems with the roads - including potholes, traffic conditions, and a recent street cave in on Maspeth Avenue from an old sewer - to the lack of access to public transportation and concerns about how the Newtown Creek Superfund cleanup would affect their businesses.
“There hasn’t been any counterweight to the local community because many of these businesses don’t have the time to attend meetings and establish a presence, and there hasn’t been an organizing force to bring them together,” said Tanler, a former business owner who sold specialized food and gifts.
Maspeth is one of the 18 areas around the city designated as a Industrial Business Zone (IBZ). It started in 2005 when the city recognized that it was important to protect the city's manufacturing areas.
But now, the Industrial Business Zone Program has been drastically downsized from 18 zones to eight and the budget has been cut by over 40 percent, diminishing the core mission of the IBZs. The LIC, Steinway and Maspeth IBZs will be combined into one contract awarded by the city. Currently, the Business Outreach Center Network provides industrial business services to the Maspeth and Steinway IBZs under two separate contracts and the Long Island City Business Development Corporation provides services to the Long Island City IBZ.
The BOCN is currently waiting for their contract to be renewed but Tanler notes that the association they are looking to create would be completely independent and separate from the BOCN and the IBZs, serving the Maspeth industrial community only.
Tanler and her organization are still finalizing the membership fees, but it will not cost more than $350 for a one-year membership. Benefits include information on financing and how to navigate government regulation, how to access tax credits incentives, information on environmental upgrades and workforce development. But more importantly, Tanler noted that the collaboration of businesses would give them a stronger voice when advocating for certain issues.
“I feel like there is a lot of opportunity, and if we have an association we can have a more formal voice,” she said.