Business leaders, owners and concerned workers from around Long Island City gathered at Kaufman-Astoria Studios with guest panelists Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblymember Cathy Nolan and State Senator Michael Gianaris for the annual elected official breakfast hosted by Long Island City’s Business Development Corporation (LICBDC) at the end of January.
All in attendance enjoyed a catered breakfast, networking opportunities and a chance to hear and question elected officials about the direction Long Island City currently follows. For Assemblymember Nolan, the cooperation and dialogue on a local level between businesses and elected officials has made a world of difference.
“We need feedback. We look to the business owners in Long Island City to find the right balance,” said Nolan, who is the Chair of the Committee on Education. “It hasn’t been an easy last two years,” referring to large education cuts but is ready to hear new ideas about how to fix the state budget. “Our door is always open.”
Councilmember Van Bramer spoke briefly about the influx of revenue that comes from tourists who come to Long Island City for the fine art.
“Many people here understand the connection between the arts, tourism and a successful city,” said Van Bramer who looked to the recent opening of the Museum of the Moving Image and funding secured for the newly designed Hunter’s Point Library as stepping stones to drawing more people to Long Island City. “We are making amazing progress.”
Moderated by LICBDC president Gayle Baron, a question and answer session gave the over 100 members and non-members alike in attendance a chance to make their voices heard. Robert Altman, business owner and member of the LICBDC board of directors plead with Van Bramer and Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr. – who was also in attendance – to reject a bill that would raise the already high cost of labor in one of the highest taxed state in the nation. Another member expressed concerns about the over-enforcement of parking and sidewalk laws that keep customers away from shopping freely. Gianaris agreed that fine and fees should exist to deter bad behavior and should not “use penalties to generate dollars for the city.”
LICBDC is a nonprofit group founded in 1979 that seeks to improve the business climate in the LIC area by organizing events, serving as an information clearinghouse, and providing a range of services for local businesses. The LIC Industrial Business Zone / Industrial Ombudsman Area (IBZ/IOA) is the largest of the city’s 16 Industrial Business Zones, encompassing 1,375 acres, or about 1.8 square miles – and about 330 city blocks. For more information about how to join or get involved with LICBDC events, call 718-786-5300.