By Oona Milliken | [email protected]
In a packed conference room in the Queens Chamber of Commerce Office, business owners passed their business cards around the room. The monthly event is organized by the Chamber of Commerce for new members to help introduce them to the organization and meet other people in the borough. Jef Gross, Manager of Media Relations for the Chamber, introduced the members to the website, how to post events online and how to submit stories for the monthly Queensborough Magazine.
According to Gross, benefits of being a member of the Chamber include connecting with other business owners and helping individuals begin the process of growing their business. Gross said other commerce chambers in New York City do not get the same level of benefits as they do in Queens, and that the new members orientation is just one example of that.
“We provide opportunities in Queens that other boroughs do not provide.” Gross said. “Individuals will join organizations and there isn’t even an orientation. This gives them a little footing, a sense of direction.”
According to Brendan Leavy, Business Development Manager for the Chamber, Queens has a strong potential for growth in technology, infrastructure and real estate expansion as well as healthcare services. Leavy said that due to the aging population in Queens, a lot of healthcare providers see opportunities to grow their practices. Two business representatives at the event were based in the healthcare sector, Praxis Health Technology and Northwell Health.
“When you have 2.3 million people, aging, also aging in place and not going to Florida, that has tremendous impacts on the healthcare system,” Leavy said. “In the room was Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state, they have over 80,000 employees…That’s bringing new jobs to Queens.”
Henk Guitjens, Director of Marketing at Corporate Loss Prevention Associates Inc. and attendee of the new member introduction event, said that he appreciated the efforts of the Queens Chamber of Commerce in order to connect businesses in the borough.
“I found it very well prepared, and I was impressed with the 20 plus people in the room. They covered everything in an hour, and I say, I was impressed, better than the experiences at some other chambers,” Guitjens said. “The opportunity to work with other members, their willingness to make introductions, which of course other chambers have…but [the Queens Chambers] also have a substantial staff.”
According to Shahriar Hossain, Business Recovery Specialist for the Chamber, Queens is unique because it has a large economic hub while still keeping a calmer, more family-oriented feel that other boroughs do not have. Hossain said he thinks that the technology sector in Queens has the potential to blossom in coming years, and that the Chamber is trying to facilitate that growth via business incubators in order to attract more tech companies.
“I think tech is going to be huge in terms of development,” Hossian said. “The Chamber actually has five tech incubators that we’ve opened throughout the borough in Jamaica, Far Rockaway, Jackson Heights, and one in Queens College.”
*Editors Note: BQE Media is the publishing partner of This is Queensborough Magazine