AAFE and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce gathered with neighborhood stakeholders June 7 to launch a multi-faceted marketing campaign on behalf of small businesses in Flushing.

The program is funded through a Neighborhood 360°  grant from New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS). The kickoff event was held at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel. 

The campaign will help address Flushing’s unique local needs identified last year in a Commercial District Needs Assessment conducted by SBS.  Independent business is the economic engine of the neighborhood, but many local operators are facing significant challenges as the community grows. The campaign’s core branding concepts were developed through extensive market research that included consumer focus groups.

The new initiative highlights Flushing’s unique character through compelling narratives and visual representations that are designed to appeal to a wide range of target audiences. The campaign will drive home the point that there is, “Something for Everyone in Flushing.” It will showcase Flushing’s unrivaled diversity, as well as its special landmarks and cultural amenities, targeting New York-area visitors and tourists from out-of-state. 

The campaign will focus on three main concepts:

Flushing A-Z showcases the neighborhood’s diversity and range of unique landmarks and cultural amenities.

The Real New York highlights the best of Flushing’s businesses through inspirational stories.

The Global Adventurer will appeal to visitors looking to discover Flushing’s hidden gems and encourages people to create their own unique experiences.

The campaign’s branding will focus on a stylized image of the World’s Fair “Unisphere,” iconic appeal and bridges the neighborhood’s past with its current status as a global metropolis. The new campaign’s tag-line, Find Yourself Here, will underscore Flushing diverse offerings.

The marketing campaign will be bolstered through a new neighborhood portal, a dynamic online resource packed with visitor information, itineraries for exploration and recommendations for places to visit, eat, and stay in Flushing. Partnerships with local businesses, city agencies, and community-based organizations throughout the three-year marketing initiative will help boost Flushing’s profile within New York City through cross-promotions, ad placements and other ideas solicited from the community.

Throughout the campaign, local businesses will be offered workshops, a style guide and online promotional opportunities. Upcoming workshops will be open to all Flushing small business owners and staff free of charge.

The kickoff event included remarks from Councilmember Peter Koo and M. Blaise Backer, deputy commissioner for neighborhood development at the NYC Department of Small Business Services. There was a presentation by John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. Isabelle Leighton, director of AAFE’s Equality Fund, moderated a panel discussion with Rob MacKay, director at Queens Tourism Council; Brendan Crain from Open House New York; Queens food critic and tour guide Joe DiStefano.

“As Flushing grows, it’s important to sustain the small businesses that started the neighborhood’s job-creating economic engine,” said Christopher Kui, AAFE executive director. “This new marketing campaign will boost their bottom lines by helping the Flushing first-time and veteran shopper alike find something in the neighborhood they’re sure to love and keep them coming back for more.”

“Our campaign seeks to sustain Flushing’s viability as a beacon for economic opportunity, mutual respect, and solidarity for those who live and work here,” added Taehoon Kim, president of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “By empowering entrepreneurs and using the latest techniques to increase market share, we hope to support our beleaguered business community, which is suffering from escalating rents, targeted enforcement, inadequate infrastructure, and competition from national chain stores.”

“Marketing is a service of the Flushing BID provides to Downtown Flushing businesses, said BID Executive Director Dian Yu. “The District Marketing Plan will promote Flushing as an attractive international community of many opportunities.  Together, we can promote Flushing as a ‘Destination of Choice’ for tourists, residents, workers, and businesses.”

“AAFE and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce wasted no time in unveiling this comprehensive marketing campaign to launch community revitalization efforts, said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Special thanks to their efforts in keeping the initiative on track and focused on deliverables for Downtown Flushing’s commercial corridors.”

“Flushing remains a hidden gem and an incubator for small, mostly immigrant-owned businesses,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Supporting owners, employees and residents while highlighting Flushing’s uniqueness is the perfect multi-pronged approach to making this neighborhood into a tourist destination for all. I look forward to seeing the evolution of Flushing and the positive impact a program like Flushing Forward will have on the community.”

“Having grown up in Flushing most of my life, I have seen firsthand its rapid development these last few decades,” said State Assemblyman Ron Kim. “We are now a vibrant and still expanding commercial and cultural hub, facing new challenges but also new opportunities. Even in a city like New York, Flushing stands out for its bustling, diverse neighborhoods. The Neighborhood 360 Program is a chance for our community’s stakeholders to join together, support local entrepreneurs, and showcase a new side of Flushing to fellow New Yorkers, Americans, and travelers from around the world.”

“Put simply, the Flushing Neighborhood 360 marketing plan is pure dynamite,” said Rob MacKay, Queens Tourism Council Director. “Businesses and cultural attractions are going to benefit tremendously, but so are tourists and local shoppers. It’s an effort that brings all the wonderful aspects of Flushing together, and then helps promote the total package. It’s also also a sign that Flushing is a major hub in New York City, and the already bustling neighborhood’s future is shining brightly.”

Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, said, “I speak for many of us (in the Flushing community) who are eager to get things done after years of discussion and planning. Our community moving things swiftly through this program will make a big difference for all of us.”

Ken Cohen, regional director of NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council., said, “This project will most definitely place Flushing in its deserved place at the top of business in New York City, by taking the suggestions offered by the steering committee and putting them into action.”

The Neighborhood 360°  grant from the city provided $1.55 million for the three-year marketing campaign. The plan is being guided by a local steering committee made up of community leaders, businesses, local stakeholders, cultural institutions and city agencies.