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Photo courtesy of Councilman Vallone's office
“2020 Snapshot” Economic Development Committee hearing

A Jamaica-based program for aspiring food entrepreneurs recently expanded its reach to the rest of Queens and invites new applicants to join.

At a recent “2020 Snapshot” Economic Development Committee hearing, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) provided updates on the Jamaica NOW Revitalization Project and the Queens FEASTS initiative.

Born out of the Jamaica Now Action Plan, the initiative formerly known as Jamaica FEASTS provides food entrepreneurs the training and tools to gain success in today’s culinary industry while actively participating in revitalizing greater Jamaica.

Councilman Paul Vallone chaired the Feb. 25 hearing, which focused on discussing major EDC-lead development projects happening in each borough.

Jamaica NOW started in 2014 as a 21-step, $153 million project designed to increase job access and small business support, encourage commercial growth, improve livability and increase tourism to Jamaica. Queens FEASTS grew out of Jamaica NOW and is currently accepting new applicants across the borough. Those interested in applying can do so at the Queens Public Library website.

“Our small businesses are the core of New York City’s economic engine, and providing prospective business owners with support and education through programs like Queens FEASTS will help the next generation of mom and pops thrive for years to come,” said Vallone. “I look forward to seeing the program’s borough-wide expansion progress and ask the EDC to explore ways we can bring these trainings and internship opportunities into our schools.”

According to Monique Hector, Queens FEASTS manager at the Queens Public Library, 148 entrepreneurs have graduated from the program. Graduates have gone on to become restaurant owners, food truck operators, caterers, food market vendors and private chefs.

“Thanks to NYCEDC, Queens FEASTS will serve up to 270 individuals over the next two years, not only in Jamaica but also Flushing, Long Island City and Far Rockaway,” said Hector. “This continued investment allows program participants to realize their dreams of starting food businesses that showcase community culture and enrich the economic landscape for individuals and families.”

Those who participate in Queens FEASTS learn the ins and out of the food industry through interactive workshops and training sessions, get insight from industry veterans and get one-on-one assistance from counselors.

“We had a lot of support from city and state to make this happen: to revitalize downtown Jamaica, to create many jobs and opportunities for those young and old alike, to promote entrepreneurship in Queens, and so much more,” said Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, who served as co-chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council.

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