The Queens Chamber of Commerce launched its WeChat initiative to provide Chinese-language businesses with resources in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on April 22.
With over 1 billion monthly active users across the globe, WeChat is known as the most popular app for Chinese people, businesses and e-commerce. It allows users to text, call, video, chat, post news, send money, and order goods.
The Queens Chamber’s account (“QueensLife”) will serve as a repository of information for business and employees, including descriptions of grants and loan programs, F.A.Q. and application guidelines, paid sick leave info, business checklists, rules and regulatory announcements, and NYS/CDC/NYC health information.
“We are proud to be the most prominent U.S.-based Chamber to embrace WeChat,” said Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “With its impressive scope of features, WeChat promises to be an incredible resource for connecting with the Chinese-language business community here in Queens, giving them the resources they need to navigate the challenges ahead. Once we are past this pandemic, we look forward to rolling out our WeChat account to support travel, trade and tourism between the Chinese-speaking world and Queens.”
The Chamber had initially planned to use the WeChat account to promote Queens businesses and Chamber members to the Chinese speaking community in Queens, as well as those visiting from China — but pivoted to provide crisis support to the Chinese-language business community in Queens once the coronavirus pandemic struck.
The Queens Chamber expects to shift back to the account’s original purpose once the pandemic has ended.
The WeChat initiative was made possible with support from Chatly, New York’s Empire State Development (ESD), Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), Flushing Chinese Business Association (FCBA) and Flushing BID.
According to Dian Song Yu, executive director of the Flushing BID, over 90 percent of the businesses in downtown Flushing are operated by Chinese owners.
“We are happy to support and partner with the Queens Chamber of Commerce to establish WeChat as a primary platform to promote the new business and resource sharing to strengthen the local economy,” Yu said. “Especially, during this challenging time, information and resource sharing is crucial to surviving this pandemic.”
Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, said the initiative will be “helpful to the Mandarin speaking community in Queens.”
Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, commended the Chamber on supporting diverse business communities in Queens, including Flushing, where businesses have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Chamber’s new WeChat account will be a tremendous resource to Chinese-owned businesses, linking them to resources and programs that will help our neighborhood recover,” Tu said.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Peter Koo said Chinese businesses in Queens have long maximized the potential of WeChat to promote and grow their business.
“I am grateful that we have a real Chamber of Commerce right here in Queens that is taking advantage of this app’s enormous potential to connect people from around the world to business in Queens,” Koo said.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Queens Chamber has adapted its programs and resources, hosting online networking sessions and town hall webinars for business owners. It has also launched www.QueensBest.org, an easy-to-navigate site that identifies the best restaurants in Queens for takeout and delivery.
To access the Queens Chamber WeChat account, sign into your personal WeChat account, and “Discover” it by scanning the QR code.