Queens Courier To Hold Town Hall Meeting On Y2K Problem – QNS.com

Queens Courier To Hold Town Hall Meeting On Y2K Problem

The Queens Courier will hold an informational town hall meeting on the upcoming Y2K crisis, open free to all Queens residents and small business owners to acquaint the public with the year 2000 problem, how it will affect their lives and livelihoods and what can be done to prevent potential disasters.
The meeting will be held next Thursday evening, March 18 at 7 p.m., at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia hotel, located directly across from LaGuardia Airport.
"With all of these dire predictions it is difficult to separate the fact from the fear," said Queens Courier Publisher Victoria Schneps. "Ever since we published a special report last December on how the Y2K problem would affect Queens residents, we have received a great deal of interest from our readers wanting to sort out what is real and what is surreal. So we decided to do something about it," Schneps said.
The "Y2K Queens Town Hall Meeting" aims to educate small business owners and residents on what the real problem may be and what disaster scenarios are bogus.
The meeting will include a detailed presentation by an expert in the Y2K problem, Kerry Gerontiano, president of Incremax Technologies, a New York software services firm. "Small businesses cannot afford to regard the Y2K problems as affecting large maintenance computers. Small business computer systems can be rendered equally unable to perform critical business functions," Gerontianos said. Representatives of the Small Business Administration, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, and other borough and City officials will also be present and there will be a question and answer period after the presentation.
Large companies, particularly those in the financial and other date-dependent industries have already invested millions to nullify calendar obstacles that could paralyze their businesses, but the focus here has been on bigger businesses, Gerontianos said. "There are nearly half a million small businesses in New York City, and 48,000 in Queens alone" he continued, "and small business computer systems that are not ready to handle the date change must be corrected, or the same type of paralysis will occur," he added.
A computer unable to distinguish, for example, between the year 2000 and the year 1900 can cause dramatic upheaval in the placement of business orders, the delivery of supplies, making payroll and accounts payable, and numerous other business functions. But it is not a computer problem and won’t be solved by "techies."
It is a business problem that must be solved by business managers. The failure of a computer to read dates accurately will affect business partners, vendors, suppliers, customers, creditors, and others. It is a large problem and must be treated as such.
This computer failure is a business failure, Gerontianos said. "It must be addressed proactively with a business plan, not a technological plan," including an understanding and assessment of the problem and its business impact, prioritization, setting of milestones, and contingency planning.
In the opinion of Bob Cordes, Public Information Officer for the New York District Office of U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses "have literally put their heads in the sand when it comes to recognizing and acting upon the Y2K problem."
Becoming Y2K-compliant entails a close look at all internal and external business operations, from whether elevators will continue to operate or whether, for example, your suppliers will be able to maintain your company’s supply lines. "If your suppliers can’t keep you supplied," Gerontianos warned, "then you will be left with idle workers and angry customers wondering where their products are."
Only about half of American small businesses have taken steps, or have a business plan in place, to address their own Y2K shortcomings, Gerontianos said. This means that companies failing to prepare themselves to operate successfully in the year 2000 run the risk of being written off as unreliable by former partners who choose to become Y2K-compliant.
"The average person will be hearing a lot of disaster scenarios over the next few months leading up to the new millennium — everything from planes falling out of the sky to cars that won’t start, medical equipment failures, ATM and bank transactions stopped," said Barbara Gillespie of Bayside, an executive working on the Y2K problem for a major New York financial institution who is assisting the Queens Courier in planning the event, which is one of the first in the city "What we hope to accomplish at the Town Hall meeting is to separate the facts from the fiction and give advice on how to plan for the real potential problems that might develop," Gillespie said. David Oats, special projects editor of the Queens Courier said that "readers should remember that time is running out. There are less than 300 days to January 1, 2000. This meeting may not be about planes falling out of the sky but will deal with how even your coffee won’t brew if you don’t prepare for it now."
The meeting is sponsored with Incremax Technologies, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia. The hotel is located at 104-04 Ditmars Blvd. in East Elmhurst.  There is no admission charge.

More from Around New York