New assistance program aims to help Flushing businesses grow

The programs aim to expand access and engagement on questions concerning the future of Flushing.
THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce has been selected by city agencies to offer several new business assistance programs as part of the launch and first phase of the “Flushing 2050 Community Building Initiative.”

According to Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Choe, Flushing 2050 is a long term visioning process to enable members of the community to voice what they think is important and necessary for the next generation of Flushing residents to prosper.

Choe said Flushing has been an attractive living destination for decades because of its many business opportunities, but escalating rents, a lack of infrastructure investment and the arrival of large national retailers make it difficult for small businesses to thrive.

“We’re a small business community,” Choe said, “so if we don’t have the opportunity to offer economic opportunities to the future, they might not be able to enter the middle class.”

Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce President Simon Gerson said that Flushing 2050 will help the community gain invaluable insight into the neighborhood’s future.

“We are America’s most dynamic neighborhood, full of energetic entrepreneurs, hardworking long-time residents, and ambitious immigrants,” Gerson said. “We are perpetually in a state of change.”

The Chamber is working on the Flushing 2050 initiative with Partners in Progress, a local collaborative established by Asian Americans for Equality which has grown to include other groups such as NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital, Queens Community College, Korean Community Services and the NAACP.

As part of its effort, the Chamber will is accepting applications from community organizers interested in taking part in the city’s new Neighborhood 360 Fellows program. Fellows will serve as resources to local business owners and jobseekers by connecting them to the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

The Chamber was also selected by the city to be the lead organization for the first “Commercial District Needs Assessment” of Flushing. This assessment is a research tool designed to help diagnose the economic health of commercial districts and then identify strategies to improve conditions for local businesses, entrepreneurs and residents.

Lastly, the Chamber will also be hosting a workshop series called the “Livable Neighborhoods Training Program.” These workshops will provide knowledge necessary for community members to participate in neighborhood planning, including the current Flushing West redevelopment process.