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April 20, 2011

Meeting to Explore the Formation of a Chamber of Commerce for Long Island City and Hunters Point Scheduled for May 19th.


By Arthur Rosenfield. Should Long Island City have a Chamber of Commerce?

ANNOUNCEMENT: OurLIC has reserved the Terrace Room space at the Waterfront Crabhouse on May 19, 2011 at 12:00 noon to discuss the merits of organizing and forming a Long Island City Chamber of Commerce. To make reservations, suggestions, requests, or to become a Founding Partner or Sponsor, please use the Sign In / RSVP Form; or, contact Arthur Rosenfield, OurLIC, Arthur@CityEntree.com, 646-920-4652. Please do not call the restaurant for reservations.

Chambers of Commerce have a long history in the United States. Their primary role is to support and promote a thriving local business community.  But, they are also involved in all aspects of progress in local government, education, and a community's growth in general.  The Queens Chamber of Commerce, for example, is 100 Years old this year. [ see OurLIC Conversation with Jack Friendman, Queens Chamber of Commerce ]

There are also cost savings and benefits through specially negotiated rates with vendors, and with insurance companies for such necessary business expense items as employee health care and benefits.

People join Chambers of Commerce to promote, learn, and get connected.  They also join to participate in local events, access resources, and contribute to the common good of a community.

Sometimes people just need friendly help in starting and growing a business in a community.

Chambers of Commerce are friendly places.

Long Island City already has a strong LICBDC and a Business Improvement District (BID), soon to be merged and rebranded as a "Partnership".  So what is the reason to consider a Chamber of Commerce at this time.

First, Chambers of Commerce co-exist in communities with Economic Development Corporations in most markets and neighborhoods in Queens and New York City as well as the rest of the United States. They co-exist because their missions are different.

Here is what we know.

We know more people are coming to Long Island City. Thousands have already arrived.  We know that businesses will emerge to serve them professionally and personally.

We know we have a good and strong Community Board with good leadership.  Marketing and  promotion, however, are not the role of the Community Board. 

We know there is a monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting and forum for businesses in Sunnyside because we attend it and report on it in OurLIC NEWS.  Astoria also has a Chamber.  None exists in Hunters Point.

Hunters Point and Hunters Point South are evolving.  There are new, and previously unmet, needs for the community.

We know we need to attract more businesses including much needed retail. Money is often spent outside this area for everything except food, restaurants, pet care, and day care. We need other types of stores so that our economy can be stronger and more attractive.

We need to be able to shop here so that the income being brought here can remain here. That is what helps to make a local economy healthy and thriving.

We know that the growing population has needs that have not been met.

There are no shoe repair shops, hardware stores, limited (1) clothing stores, butchers, fish markets, bakers, candlestick makers, card and gift shops, kitchen and bath stores, computer and office supplies. Everything we need to buy is a subway ride away or a drive away.   It may even have been part of the plan, that people moving here would somehow shop somewhere else....and be willing to give up the conveniences that other neighborhoods have.

We also need organized beautification so that our growing community can look charming.  The artists and performing artists, that are an underlying presence and unique strength of the community, should have a business community that supports them by making it look attractive. We need to compete with neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Williamsburg Brooklyn as a destination for people who want to enjoy all of NYC...come to restaurants, shops, studios, theaters, and galleries. 

Our Long Island City restaurants need that same support.

Long Island City will look like a more stable and organized community if there is a sign here and there along our streets that says there is a "Chamber of Commerce in Long Island City" with a monthly meeting. 

LIC has a growing population and, we believe that it needs to have a Chamber of Commerce. During her recent campaign, US Representative Carolyn Maloney made the same observation in response to a question from a resident of Long Island City.

If a Chamber of Commerce is organized here in Long Island City, here are the benefits that could be achieved.

  • There would be a forum and a council for Business people who are close to the growing needs of the community to express themselves, share ideas, learn, and help to steer the future direction of LIC.
  • The Business Community here would have an independent voice to advocate for the needs of the community that it identifies.
  • There would be regular meetings on topics of common interest.
  • There would be an improved flow of information, flow of ideas, and ultimately a stronger and improved flow of commerce.
  • There would be a focus on the development of a more vibrant retail economy.
  • There would be Networking for local business opportunities.
  • The community leaders would identify opportunities that require common action for the overall good of the LIC and Hunters Point Economy.
  • There would be a way to be collectively supportive of organizations that act in the interest of Long Island City. 
  • The community would be able to reach out to attract new businesses, commercial development, and jobs.
  • The Chamber of Commerce could identify social service issues that need action to further strengthen the sustainability of the community including health care, medical services, doctors, and education for a population of young growing families.
  • To be inclusive of non-profit organizations, Economic Development Corporations, religious leaders, and various institutions and to create a forum for elected officials to talk to the business community.
  • Effectively act to organize events that support common goals.
  • Develop a plan for beautification of Long Island City.
  • Listen to ideas that are brought to the monthly forum.

For these reasons, we have reserved the Terrace Room space at The Waterfront Crabhouse, 2-5 Borden, Long Island City on May 19th at 12:00 noon to discuss the merits of organizing and starting a Long Island City Chamber of Commerce. There will be a modest cost for lunch, which will be payable individually to the restaurant.

We have also invited Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce to be with us so that he can share his view.  Other Chamber of Commerce leaders and community leaders will attend and be able to express their views.

Finally, it is not our intention to form another BID. 

To make reservations, suggestions, requests, or to become a sponsor, please contact Arthur Rosenfield, OurLIC, Arthur@CityEntree.com, 646-920-4652.  Please do not call the restaurant for reservations.


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