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Flushing’s new chamber of commerce kicks off business unification with party

Photo by Lea Kim from Dan & Ellie Photography

Flushing’s new chamber of commerce revved up its operations with a launch party Dec. 11 attended by 250 people from all corners of the fourth largest commercial district in New York City.

“We had a lot of excitement and energy in one place,” said John Choe, the executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “And we need to channel all of that into a unified force that will be listened to by those in power.”

The launch party, which took place in Flushing Town Hall, was as much a party as it was a chance to bring together the many different players, with all their varied thoughts and interests, into one place. For Choe, the launch party marked the beginning of the long task of gathering the small business owners into one organization with greater clout to City Hall to satisfy the commercial district’s needs, including more city funding for infrastructure.

During the party, Choe said that the new wave of commercial development in Flushing was welcome, but he urged caution when embracing chain stores — like Nike — that are moving into the neighborhood.

“We have to protect the interests of small businesses because they give us economic resilience,” Choe said. “We don’t want to depend on Starbucks and national banks to keep our economy afloat.”

Local politicians and Borough President Melinda Katz also attended the party, showing their support for the chamber.

Choe characterized the work of gaining the support of businesses as a process similar to going door to door from one business to another. But he remained hopeful that Flushing’s various groups could come together for a common goal.

“We have the ability to surpass downtown Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan as the largest commercial districts because we have so much more going for us,” Choe said. “We have to make sure that we support the businesses that have been here for decades and helped make Flushing prosperous in the first place.”

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