By Mark Hallum
The Queens Chamber of Commerce and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced the allocation of $75,000 in funding to launch the Business Accelerator Program, a service designed to help the creation and maintenance of Queens-based start-ups and keep recent CUNY grads in the borough by creating jobs for them.
There are 70,000 students at the four colleges in Queens with 48 percent being foreign-born, according to Thomas Grecht, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the program is to create jobs for the newly educated to stay in the borough and contribute to the local economy.
“We want to go out and find start-ups. We hear anecdotally there are a lot of start-ups in Queens and we know that, but we want to go and qualify them. I want to find people in the various stages of development,” said Grecht. “Queens has a biography of people who have done well in a number of different businesses. I seek to reach out to them, to give back and potentially invest in some of these companies and I want the Queens Chamber to be the facilitator of all of that.”
Grecht said the program will help those hoping to build an enterprise at all stages, such as those with little more than a dream to fully developed businesses with plans to expand. The funding allocated by Avella will go toward covering expenses for the initial establishment of the program such as a base of operations and other additional overhead costs.
“I have long advocated for small businesses in Queens, and was proud to secure funding for this exciting new program,” Avella said. “This will bring Queens businesses to the forefront, as this program will target small businesses in all sectors, to help them compete and grow, while prioritizing keeping Queens students in the borough after graduation. I am thrilled to have secured this funding—with this program, Queens will look to lead in job growth.”
The chamber hopes to have the program up and running by the end of the year.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall