Queens Chamber of Commerce and Koo encourage Flushing small businesses to get online

Dian Yu; Jim Dong; Councilman Peter Koo; Tom Grech; Michelle Watson, tech specialist SBRN/Queens Chamber of Commerce; Jessie He, business recovery specialist SBRN/Queens Chamber of Commerce. (Photo courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce)

The Queens Chamber of Commerce and Councilman Peter Koo helped Flushing small businesses to jumpstart their online presence and help them get back on their feet on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Business owners got the opportunity to learn about free resources offered by the Queens Chamber, including the Open + Online program, which helps businesses create new websites and helps with search engine optimization (SEO).

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of neighborhoods like Flushing, but they’ve had an incredibly challenging year and a half due to the pandemic,” Grech said. “We were delighted to join Council member Peter Koo and the Flushing BID today to speak with business owners and let them know what resources the chamber has available to them so they can reach more customers. Our Open + Online program can help businesses get back on their feet and thrive in the post-pandemic economy, and we encourage anyone who wants to learn more about the program to reach out to the chamber.”

Flushing business owner Jim Dong; Dian Yu, Flushing BID executive director; Councilman Peter Koo; Tom Grech. (Photo courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce)

Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech and Councilman Koo were joined by Flushing BID Executive Director Dian Song Yu, Queens Chamber staff and other members of the business community. The group visited a number of businesses during the Aug. 17 walkabout, beginning at Bland Playground on the corner of Prince Street and 40th Road and up to the bustling Main Street and Roosevelt Street.

The Open + Online program is offered through the NYC Small Business Resource Network, which provides personalized guidance and assistance to small businesses through each borough’s Chamber of Commerce.

“The pandemic changed shopping patterns for small business in many ways. There was a major shift toward online shopping, so we want to make sure our businesses know about the chamber’s capacity to help build websites for our community free of charge. Customers are coming back, and we want to make sure our businesses have every available resource at their disposal so they too can come back and thrive in this post-pandemic economy,” Koo said.

Last summer, a report showed that Flushing businesses received the fewest Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans in the city, with just 38.3%, or 913 of the 2,381 qualified businesses receiving loans.

Dian Yu and Jessie He sign Jim Dong up for the SBRN. (Photo courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce)

Over the past year, the community has rallied together to help Flushing small businesses recover through efforts like the Asian American Federation distributing $1,000 grants to 40 businesses and Flushing Shopping Week organized by the Flushing BID.

“Online presence is important for small businesses to thrive,” Yu said. “Especially during this pandemic era, a website can serve as a key communication channel between merchants and consumers, allowing businesses to operate more efficiently and broaden their customer base.”

The NYC Small Business Resource Network, which runs Open + Online, is powered by the Peter G Peterson Foundation and the Partnership for New York City.

To learn more, visit nycsmallbusinessresourcenetwork.org.