The Main Event; Business Leaders and their Patrons Gather as Neighbors at This Year’s Queens Business Expo

by Alexander Bernhardt Bloom

Vendors and attendees chat and break bread.

Tuesday was held the 2024 edition of the Queens Business Expo, an annual event put on by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and held at Citi Field’s sprawling conference center space in the stadium’s upper deck level. On entry, attendees were met with views of the pristine diamond below, quiet today for the main event above.

Some 140 partners participated in this year’s edition, – including our very own BQE media, also a sponsor of the event – and the vendor’s tables they set out were there for the perusing of the expo’s estimated 2000 attendees. (The event is free and open to any interested members of the public by way of a simple web registration form).

Entrepreneuring Women in AI on the main stage.

They’d come to rub elbows with Queens’ best in the commercial sector, and also to hear remarks from featured panels, whose focus this year was Artificial Intelligence and particularly highlighted women entrepreneurs in that field.

Most importantly, the annual event is about connecting with its members, explained R.J. Zamudio, with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and encouraging them, especially small businesses, to connect with eachother. “Networking, giving opportunities, giving government groups a chance to reach the public.” Indeed, a good number of the tables, nestled among the banks and restaurants and nonprofit advocates at their flanks, were representatives of city agencies related to development.

Much reason to celebrate at the well-attended annual event.

For Zachary Richards of Raising Cane’s, commanding a table full of company-marked giveaways, the event simply provided a good way to make an introduction to the new neighbors they’d find around their newest location in Flushing, the casual fried chicken chain making inroads there and elsewhere in the five boroughs. “We’re new to the market,” he said, “we’d like to tell you about us.”

Many happy returns.

Christian Hernandez, Director of Retail Banking at Maspeth Federal Savings, was there as a neighbor as well, looking to mingle with other smaller business leaders and conduct outreach in even the most basic of ways: “The more people who know the name of Maspeth,” a ‘hidden gem’ of a town at the edge of Queens, he described it, “the better for the bank and town.”

Victor Prado, program manager for the Queens Economic Development Corporation, was there for visibility. “When it comes to nonprofits, there are a lot of services we do for the community, and the community doesn’t know about it,” he said, from behind a desk covered in leaflets and branded ballpoint pens for handout. “We want to make it visible. We’re here to make ourselves available.”

Scoping the swag and good giveaways.

A diverse bunch, there was nevertheless a strong feeling of mutual support and kinship among the Expo participants, and when they gathered for the mid-afternoon luncheon by the dining section on the home plate side of the upper deck the banner that hung overhead seemed to speak to something bigger than baseball: We Are All Mets, it read.

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