New Small Business Development Center at Queens College aims to help local immigrants thrive

Photo courtesy of Queens College

To mark National Small Business week, Queens College and LaGuardia Community College officials along with Flushing Congresswoman Grace Meng on Monday officially launched the opening of a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Queens College.

A joint effort between Queens College and LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), the SBDC — located at Queens College Kissena Hall at 64-19 Kissena Blvd, Suite 01 — will serve immigrant entrepreneurs and other under-represented populations in Flushing with initial outreach in English and Mandarin.

“This new center will provide vital assistance to budding entrepreneurs, including immigrants, whose start-up businesses are indispensable to our borough and city,” said CUNY Chancellor and Queens College President Felix v. Matos Rodriguez. “We very much look forward to seeing the results of successful collaborations between the center’s clients and its skilled staff, complemented by the talents and contributions of our Tech Incubator team, faculty and student interns.”

The Queens College SBDC will initially be overseen by Rosa Figueroa, director of LaGuardia Community College’s SBDC. Since its opening in 2001, the center has served nearly 6,000 businesses helping them invest more than $60 million in the area’s economy and create, or save nearly 2,000 jobs.

Figueroa will train two business advisors who will support the business community on site at the Queens College SBDC.

“We work with businesses who are basically an idea, those who are starting up, those who are in business and would like to grow,” said Figueroa. “We provide services other than English in Spanish, Mandarin and Korean. With Queens College, we’ll have a total of six business advisers. We have three Asian advisers and they have been working with this area, this way we’ll be able to further expand our services for the community.”

Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

Areas of advising include how to start a business, legal requirements, business and financial planning (including creating projections and preparing loan packages), marketing, business expansion, assistance with franchises, international trade and more, according to the LaGuardia Small Business Development Center, that is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and operates within the Learning and Innovation Center at LGCC.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Meng was proud to secure $130 million for SBDC’s nationwide and last year’s spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018 —$160,000 of which she helped steer toward establishing and funding the facility in her congressional district.

Congresswoman Grace Meng
(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS)

“As the daughter of small business owners I know firsthand the critical role that small businesses play in our borough and in our city,” said Meng. “Small businesses as you know, bring investment and innovation to our communities. They create jobs, provide important services and contribute to our tax base. That’s why we must do everything we can to help those succeed.”

Meng added, “This new center will serve as a vital asset to local small business owners, including those from immigrant and under-represented communities, and it will ensure local entrepreneurs will have the tools and support they need to thrive.”

Following a Small Business Subcommittee field hearing held in 2014 across the street from Queens College, Meng began working towards the goal of creating a SBDC in northeast Queens after local entrepreneurs stated that establishing a center was essential in better serving the needs of local business owners, she said.

The Tech Incubator at Queens College (TIQC) — the first facility of its kind in the borough — and the college’s programs, including its bachelor of business administration and its minor in business and liberal arts, will offer opportunities for collaborations among SBDC clients and Queens College faculty and students.

The Queens College SBDC will also focus on supporting the tech business community — from start-ups to established businesses — leveraging the college’s strengths in computer and data science, and drawing on the resources of the TIQC.

LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said she hopes the deep connection with Queens College on the new SBDC will help small businesses in the community thrive.

“Having this opportunity to expand support for immigrant entrepreneurs and other small business owners in Flushing, Queens, through our partnership with Queens College, is extremely meaningful,” said Mellow. “Not only is this a model for future collaborations — bringing expertise to communities where it’s needed, and thereby shortening ramp-up time. But small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities — when they thrive, our communities thrive. They provide jobs, close access to services and more. We’re very pleased to be working with our colleagues at Queens College in this important endeavor.”

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