Asian Americans for Equality kicked off a new $1.55 million initiative March 31, 2017 to support small businesses in Flushing, Queens. The project is being made possible through a Neighborhood 360° grant from New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS). AAFE is the coordinating organization, partnering with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce (GFCC) and the Flushing Business Improvement District (Flushing BID)
As part of this important initiative, AAFE also announced the formation of a local steering committee made up of community leaders, businesses, local stakeholders, cultural institutions and city agencies. Its purpose if to develop a plan for promoting and supporting Flushing’s vibrant business and cultural community.
AAFE Executive Director Christopher Kui said, “Local small businesses have transformed Flushing into a vibrant economic hub for New York City, providing a retail economy of well over a billion dollars a year. Now is the time to re-invest in Flushing and support the small business owners that have worked so hard to get us here. I’m excited to work with our neighborhood partners—the Chamber and the BID—and SBS to give businesses the necessary tools to succeed and thrive in this exciting new time for Flushing.”
During the course of the three-year program, the unique needs of small businesses will be met through workshops, advertisements and exhibitions aimed at promoting Flushing’s diverse array of retailers. It will also include a tourism campaign, videos, and other creative promotions to draw in more business to Flushing. There will be a robust sanitation initiative to expand the local infrastructure for daily cleanup in Flushing.
“We are grateful to the Department of Small Business Services for investing in our community,” said Simon Gerson, President of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “Small business is the backbone of our national economy, and Flushing is an example of how immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to our shared prosperity.”
Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District said, “The Flushing BID is a nonprofit that works for the small businesses within the Downtown Flushing area, and we truly understand our immigrant community’s needs. We believe that the Neighborhood 360° grant will have the ability to make a direct impact on small businesses’ bottom line.”
“Strong neighborhoods are the backbone of our city, and the $1.55 million being invested in Downtown Flushing will go a long way towards revitalizing a key commercial corridor,” said Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “Working with community partners, we are supporting area small business growth and strengthening the neighborhood for all residents.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said, “It is essential that we do all we can to help small businesses grow and thrive, and this ambitious initiative will go a long way towards promoting the many vibrant businesses in Flushing. As the daughter of small business owners, I know firsthand the important role that small businesses play in driving our economy, and this plan will help ensure that Flushing entrepreneurs have the help and support they need to succeed.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, “A program like the Neighborhood 360º Program is important – it will support the local area and help it keep pace with the many new developments and investments that are growing up around us. Special thanks to Asian American for Equality, Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, Flushing Business Improvement District and NYC Small Business Services for working to strengthen and revitalize the community through the infusion of $1.55 million and the implementation of this program.”
“Over the years, Flushing has become one of the most bustling economic hubs in New York City, consisting of small, mostly immigrant-owned businesse,s and it is important support them as much as possible,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “That is why I am so pleased to see AAFE and the Flushing BID committing to creating a plan to promote and support Flushing businesses so they can further develop a thriving community, an essential part of the city’s economy.”
Councilmember Peter Koo said, “The small business community in downtown Flushing is what first put our community on the map, so we must be sure to protect and serve their best interests. A strategic approach to planning and development will uplift this critical sector of our economy, and help them to thrive in the community they helped to build.”
The initiative will address Flushing’s unique local needs identified last year through a series of surveys, observations, and stakeholder interviews. The results from the assessment can be found in a report issued by SBS last year.
The Neighborhood 360° initiative was created to identify and develop commercial revitalization projects in close partnership with community-based organizations. Grant recipients were selected based upon their proposed projects, prior experience with their respective communities, capacity to partner with other organizations, and capacity to oversee new staff. Grant awards were then determined by project scope and scale.