BY JOE MARVILLI
Flushing businesses have a new source to turn to for help.
On Nov. 13, the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce announced its formation, giving entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the neighborhood a new agency that will offer assistance. With a focus on education, networking and advocacy, the organization will hold a launch party on Dec. 11 at Flushing Town Hall, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Chamber grew out of One Flushing, a community organization started by Asian Americans for Equality in 2011. That group’s leader, John Choe, is now the executive director for the new chamber. The project has been in the making for two years, after the previous chamber closed in 2012.
Choe said that the Greater Flushing Chamber aims to educate business owners on where to get funding and resources as well as how to work with government agencies. It plans to host networking events frequently in an effort to create a close Flushing business network. It will also advocate for the Flushing business community at the City and State levels, not only making sure that the neighborhood gets the resources it needs, but also fighting against overregulation or excessive fines.
The Greater Flushing Chamber looks to be the middle ground between the Borough-wide outlook of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Flushing Business Improvement District, which sticks to the downtown area.
“The Queens Chamber does a great job of representing the entire Borough of Queens, but we need a chamber that actually focuses on supporting the local businesses in Flushing,” Choe said. “The BID does a great job of maintaining the streets for property owners in downtown Flushing, primarily on Main Street and Roosevelt. We’ll be going beyond the downtown area to support all the local businesses.”
Choe added that the Greater Flushing Chamber plans to work with both of those organizations as well.
The Chamber’s coverage area is not defined by hard boundaries. Instead, Choe said it will support any business that identifies itself as a member of the Flushing community. Generally, its borders will extend into Queensboro Hill and areas of Whitestone and Fresh Meadows.
Several community leaders and government representatives were on hand for the announcement, praising the addition to Flushing’s business scene.
“In Flushing, everybody works together,” Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, said. “I wish the Flushing Chamber of Commerce can help every person to have business over here as well as they wish. This is necessary.”
Chris Kui, executive director of AAFE & co-chair of Flushing Chamber, agreed with Tu’s sentiment of an all-encompassing, united business community.
“We’re quite confident that this is a very inclusive approach,” he said. “We want to be able to bring in everyone and put a focus on looking at small businesses.”
Representatives of all of Flushing’s elected officials expressed their support for the new venture as well.
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is located at 39-01 Main St., Suite 511. For more information or for assistance, call (646) 820-5163, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit flushingchamber.nyc.
“We have shown that we are a very diverse group of people that represent many different industries, many different for-profit, nonprofit sectors of our community,” Choe said. “We’re going to be expanding this diversity.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, email@example.com, or @JoeMarvilli.