Queens leaders announce aid to AAPI businesses amid anti-Asian violence

U.S. Representative Grace Meng speaks at a news conference announcing a partnership to provide Google Nest cameras to local business owners at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Elected officials and business leaders from across the borough joined U.S. Rep. Grace Meng on Friday, Sept. 9, at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, where she announced a new initiative to support safer environments for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)-owned small businesses in Queens, New York City and beyond.

Under the AAPISTRONG Nest Cam Kit program, eligible AAPI small business owners can now receive three Google Nest Cams, along with setting-up services at no cost, thanks to a collaboration between Google and the Asian American Federation (AAF).

“The hate and violence directed at the Asian American community over the past 2 1/2 years has been despicable and disgusting, and we must continue doing everything we can to combat these increased attacks and acts of bigotry,” Meng said. “This includes protecting Asian-owned small businesses, and this initiative will go a long way towards helping to increase safety for them, their customers and our communities. Thank you to National ACE, Google and the Asian American Federation for launching this important partnership to support safer business environments. As I have said many times, we must never take a backseat to safety. Keeping people safe and out of harm’s way must always be the top priority.”

The AAPISTRONG initiative was created in response to the sharp increase in violence against AAPI communities and designed to foster economic opportunity by cultivating a safer environment for brick-and-mortar businesses through Nest products.

“As if the devastation of the economic downturn from the pandemic was not enough, Asian American small business owners have to contend with being afraid for the physical safety of staff and themselves, as anti-Asian violence continues,” Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo said. “The free AAPISTRONG Nest Cam giveaway from Google and National ACE will go a long way toward keeping our brick-and-mortar businesses safe and allow them to continue to do what they do best — provide jobs, generate revenue and act as a safety net for our communities.”

The program will be administered by National ACE, an organization that advocates for AAPI’s business interests.

U.S. Representative Grace Meng, right, at a news conference announcing a partnership to provide Google Nest cameras to local business owners at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

“Our AAPI-owned businesses are still experiencing severe losses as a result of hate, discrimination and bias at their places of business,” said National ACE President and CEO Chiling Tong. “This contribution from Google will provide security for AAPI small business owners that have faced heightened insecurity. Together, these products can help businesses increase office safety, save energy and run efficiently.”

In addition to the three indoor Nest cameras, eligible businesses will also receive a 12-month subscription to Nest Aware and professional installation services.

“Small and independent business owners and operators in New York continue to be the backbone of our economy and have persevered through tremendous barriers in the past few years,” said Angela Pinsky, head of government affairs and public policy, Google New York. “With today’s announcement, Google and Nest are supporting the AAPI community and addressing the additional challenges they face.”

The rise of anti-Asian violence has impacted residents and businesses in Flushing during the last two years.

“The statistics were clear that crimes against the AAPI community were rising during the pandemic, but it was the footage caught on security cameras across the city that drove home the brutality of these attacks,” Councilwoman Sandra Ung said. “Not only will these free security cameras bring peace of mind to business owners and deter criminal activity, they could also play a role in bringing future perpetrators to justice.”

Interested applicants can learn more about the program and the application process here.

“Small business owners are the backbone of our economy and AAPI businesses accounted for 20% of all small businesses prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said. “Not only have they had to deal with the disastrous economic realities of the COVID-19 crisis but they also had to deal with an increase in hate crimes and violence. We must do all we can to ensure their security.”