BY JOE MARVILLI
As the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Jack Friedman is a recognized and welcomed face in the Borough. He is always willing to lend a hand or offer his advice, doing what he can to help Queens succeed.
Within the Chamber itself, Friedman aims to fulfill its vision as the “premier comprehensive resource” for the Borough’s business community. However, Friedman also fully embodies the Chamber’s mission statement with his tireless efforts in all of Queens’ neighborhoods.
“With a century of leadership, we foster economic growth and prosperity in the most diverse community in the country by promoting the interests of business through advocacy, networking and education,” the mission statement reads.
This work is seen in not only his willingness to share his experience and his backing, but in his support of programs and ideas that help out individual members of the community.
One of the biggest moves the Queens Chamber made was the establishment and continued support of the business improvement districts. Whether they are looking for help with a specific problem, asking for additional resources or looking for their community to get some more focus from Queens overall, Friedman knows the best path for any BID to take.
“Across all of Queens, he’s been supportive of starting new BIDs and providing necessary services,” Lyle Sclair, executive director of the Bayside BID, said. “We all have different needs. It’s not one size fits all.”
Sclair added that whenever something is going on in the BID, Friedman is one of the first people he calls, as he has his “pulse on everything going on Queens.”
The Woodhaven BID’s executive director, Maria Thomson, agreed with Sclair’s statement. She said that Friedman not only brings his own expertise to any given issue, but also reaches out to other members of the Chamber to get the BID the help and support it needs. As a former small business owner himself, Friedman understands what the mom-and-pops are going through, particularly in competing against corporate chains.
“We’re always fighting the big stores and the malls. It’s quite a difficulty in this economy to hold your head above water and be a small business,” she said. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce has helped us try to even the playing field.”
No matter the neighborhood, Friedman’s work on behalf of the community was noted and praised by the BIDs.
“We appreciate the work of the Queens Chamber and Jack’s work in the Borough,” Rachel Thieme, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, said. “It’s an exciting time to be promoting local businesses in Queens and we’re really happy for the resources of the Queens Chamber.”
BIDs are not the only community organizations that benefit from Friedman’s leadership. The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has worked closely with the Queens Chamber for many years, as they look to improve Southeast Queens. Though the GJDC has a more specific focus, Friedman brings a broader perspective to the nonprofit, helping them rally support from the rest of Queens, according to vice president Andy Manshell.
“When we need Jack for something, he jumps right in. He’s valuable to the business community throughout Queens due to his expertise in civic life in the Borough,” he said. “He can give us his perspective on how things that are happening in Southeast Queens are perceived in the rest of the Borough.”
While the Chamber’s focus is on business, Friedman’s efforts help to improve the lives of everyone in Queens. Just in the past year alone, he worked to save a school’s graduation and to make the lives of veterans a little easier.
In terms of the former, the Queens Chamber raised about $7,000 for the graduation ceremony of Briarwood’s PS 117. The occasion was in danger of being canceled after it was discovered that $30,000 in the school’s Parent Teacher Association fund went missing. In response, Friedman reached out to the Chamber’s members, asking them to pull together enough funds for the students to get a graduation.
In November, the Chamber worked with Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) to create the Queens Veterans Discount Program. Businesses throughout the Borough that take part in the new initiative will offer discounts to any veteran that has a free discount card marking them as one.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, email@example.com, or @Joe Marvilli.