On May 10, hundreds of business leaders from Queens visited Albany to meet with state lawmakers during Queens Day in Albany. The event, which gives local business leaders an opportunity to advocate for the interests of commerce, was held in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago.
New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who chairs the committee on racing, gaming, and wagering, delivered remarks during a luncheon with Chamber members, who later met with dozens of State Senate and Assembly Members. Before returning to Queens, the visitors to The Capitol enjoyed a dinner catered by dozens of Queens restaurants.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of Queens’ diverse neighborhoods, and throughout the pandemic, they have played an essential role in keeping our communities afloat, all while facing unprecedented challenges,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “One of the most important things we do as a Chamber is advocate for the interests of our members. It was inspiring to meet with our elected representatives in person, so they could hear from our members first-hand about the challenges they face. I thank all of the business leaders who joined us, as well as Senator Addabbo and his colleagues in the legislature, who listened to their concerns.”
Addabbo, whose district represents the Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, and Rockaway communities, said that Queens Day in Albany is one of his favorite days during the legislative session.
“It was great to welcome back Queens Day to Albany, demonstrating that we can overcome a pandemic and make attempts to return to normal life,” Addabbo said. “Queens Day allows us to meet with our constituents, as well as great community organizations and businesses, while we are upstate working on legislative issues. Queens Day reminds us why it’s important to promote our local businesses and to recognize what they’ve been through during COVID and their efforts to help others throughout the pandemic. I am thankful to Tom Grech and the entire Queens Chamber for being there when needed for our businesses and for allowing me to participate in their Queens Day festivities.”
During their meetings with state lawmakers, members of the Chamber took the opportunity to discuss several issues impacting businesses both in the borough and throughout the state, including:
- The New York State Film Production Tax Credit – The State budget for the 2023 fiscal year extends the credit for the next three years. Currently, it provides a 25 percent credit for qualified production expenditures. Members of the Chamber advocated for extending and expanding the credit by eliminating the annual cap, eliminating the sunset clause, and increasing the tax credit from 25 percent to 30 percent. Queens is home to several film and television production studios including Silvercup Studios and Kaufman Astoria Studios, and will soon welcome Robert DeNiro’s Wildflower Studios to Astoria.
- Real Property Tax Law 485-w – The proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul aims to replace the existing 421-a tax exemption for developers building affordable multi-family housing. It is well established that New York City is in need of affordable housing, but building can be expensive and challenging due to cost, taxes, and increasingly more expensive insurance and utility costs. The Queens Chamber came out in support of the 485-w program proposal, which would create affordable housing through privately-financed development projects in parts of the City where government struggles to build on its own.
- Making Resorts World New York City a full-scale commercial casino – Since it opened in Ozone Park more than 10 years ago, Resorts World has created good-paying union jobs, employed a strong and diverse workforce, generated much-needed revenue for local schools, supported local nonprofit organizations, and generated economic activity which continues to support local small businesses. Members of the Chamber said that granting RWNYC one of the three remaining casino licenses would allow them to double their workforce by adding over 1,000 union jobs and doing even more to support the local community.
“It was wonderful to have Queens come to Albany to share our great diversity and talents with everyone in New York State,” Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said. “I enjoyed tasting all the food from our district, particularly the three-generation female-owned restaurant, Ricas Pupusas & Mas, as well as meeting small business owners from across Queens. I am very appreciative that I was honored with my Queens colleagues.”
Nolan, whose district represents the Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Long Island City, and Maspeth neighborhoods in Queens, announced earlier this year that she plans to retire after her current term expires this year. She has been a state representative for the district since 1985.
“Queens Day in Albany 2022 was a complete success,” said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman said. “I was so glad to welcome the best county in the state to our capital once again to showcase our small businesses, culture, food, and customs.”
Hyndman was elected to the State House in 2015 and serves as a representative of the 29th district, which encompasses the Laurelton, Rosedale, St. Albans, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, and Jamaica communities.
“If you want to experience the cultural diversity of our borough, look no further than the small businesses and restaurants that enrich our neighborhoods. I was privileged to sponsor the Senate resolution celebrating Queens Day in New York State. We appreciate the efforts of the Queens Chamber of Commerce as they assist small businesses,” State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said.
Stavisky became the first woman from Queens to be elected to the Senate in 1999 and currently serves as Chairperson of the State Senate Committee on Higher Education.