The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce is hoping to become a network of support for local Queens businesses.
Phil Andrews, president of the chamber and a Fresh Meadows resident, said the organization, which has directors who represent Brooklyn and Queens as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties, was formed in 2010 by John L. Scott as the first regional chamber of commerce in the area for the African-American community.
Along with holding events to give back to communities, such as a toy drive to benefit children of families affected by Hurricane Sandy, the chamber of commerce hosts seminars and workshops to teach business owners how to manage their money.
“People, when they get into business or they want to get into business, they need some type of support, some type of guidance around how to get loans or how to get their business to the next level,” Andrews said. “After a while, when you operate the business it can become so challenging that you can’t get to the next level, so having a network of professionals is a great [way] to help them with their business skills.”
Andrews said working with business owners in Queens is a top priority for the organization because according to the U.S. Census, more than 500,000 African-Americans live in the borough.
The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce to hold a networking reception, and Andrews said he is hoping to work with other chambers in the Queens community to act as a “big brother” to them.
Andrews is also working with local government in each county to ensure that capital funds dedicated to minority business owners result in business contracts for the communities they are meant to serve. The organization is aiming to help business owners of diverse nationalities, not exclusively African-American business owners.
“We have been building a coalition between the Flushing Chamber of Commerce and we worked with the Jewish community, so we’re very diverse,” Andrews said. “Even though our name is African-American, we want to do business with other communities.”
Business owners looking to gain membership into the chamber of commerce or to be placed on the email list for upcoming events can email firstname.lastname@example.org.