As I watched the Sochi Olympics last month, it occurred to me that instead of trying to promote New York City as a site for the Summer Games, as we did 10 years ago, we should go after the Winter Games. We certainly had more snow than Sochi over the last few weeks, and we have the venues: ice hockey in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, cross-country skiing in Forest Park and luge along the Jackie Robinson Parkway.
We could add some new sports, such as pothole-swerving on the Long Island Expressway or puddle jumping on Queens Boulevard. Whatever events we choose, the Olympics emphasizes that there are three things that unite people of all nationalities, races and religions: sports, music and food. One does not need to have language skills or a higher education to enjoy an athlete’s performance, a beautifully played instrument or a well-cooked meal.
In a world where so much can separate us, we are fortunate to live in a borough where we can find things in common and sometimes fuse them so they are uniquely Queens.
I am thinking of a recent gala I attended in Richmond Hill, eating Chinese/Indian/Caribbean cuisine while listening to reggae. Of course, that brings us to the upcoming Queens Taste 2014 April 29, when we will celebrate wonderful specialties that originated around the globe but are now local staples.
The fun will take place at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing, not far from Flushing Town Hall and Queens Theater, where musical and theatrical mash-ups delight the eyes and ears.
Behind these events are the small businesses, neighborhood groups and cultural institutions that contribute to our diversity. At QEDC, we like to think we take a cacophony of economic programs and make them harmonious for anyone seeking to open or expand a business.
New Idea to New Venture gives folks basic information on starting a business, the Women’s Business Center Power Breakfasts combine networking and education and through the NYC SBTech Coalition we provide monthly QuickBooks Training.
We recently added two new programs: First Time Investor is an eight-week class which instructs qualified participants in aspects of finance — saving, investing, stocks and retirement — with the added incentive of a $750 grant upon course completion.
We also have partnered with ACCION so a loan consultant is available at the Entrepreneur Space on a regular basis to assist clients seeking microloans.
Successful athletes, musicians and chefs know they must train, rehearse and test before ascending a slope, appearing on stage or adding a new dish to a menu. That is how you qualify for the Olympics, get to Carnegie Hall or convince a food critic to give a five-star review.
And like anything that takes skill, early attempts are often disappointing and disheartening. Though I am certainly not in training for the Summer Olympics, I have been attempting to swim freestyle. After untold hours, I can now get across the pool at the St. Sebastian Parish Center in Woodside, doing something resembling the crawl.
Michael Phelps need not worry, but at the least the lifeguard has stopped running over and asking if I am in distress.
Though the odds of any Olympics coming to New York City soon are small, I encourage all those with aspirations to stick to their training, whether it is for your business or just to get across the pool.
Queens Economic Development Corp.