Just over four months since bringing a congressional hearing to her home borough, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) followed through on her commitment to bringing more resources to Queens’ small businesses.
A small business development center was announced as the borough’s newest resource for entrepreneurs looking for more dynamic assistance in arguably the most diverse borough of New York City. The program, housed at LaGuardia Community College, will plant an advisor in the Flushing branch of the Queens Library to serve for the entire borough, Meng said.
The program was slated to start this week and run every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with help from business advisor XiaYuan “Wennie” Hanson in the library’s downstairs meeting room. It will offer up one-on-one business advising, training, and assistance with access to capital, marketing, advertising, referrals to lending institutions and much more, Meng said.
“Providing small business services at the library is excellent news for small businesses in the area,” she said. “While this is not a full-fledged small business development center, it is a great first step to securing one in the future and it will serve as an outstanding asset to local small business owners.”
Before launching the Flushing center, Meng said the borough only had small business develop centers at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City and another at York College in Jamaica, making it difficult for business owners in the northeastern part of the borough to access critical resources at their convenience. Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, hailed the new center as a victory for the entire borough.
“Small business development centers have proven to be an effective way to help entrepreneurs learn how to access capital, market their business and register as a minority and women-owned business enterprise,” he said. “This new partnership between SBDC, Queens Library and LaGuardia Community College will reach even more small businesses in Queens, and teach them about the resources that are available to help them succeed.”
Meng hosted a congressional field hearing at Queens College back in March and pressed officials as to why borough business owners were not taking advantage of their accessible federal benefits. She sat along with U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and Richard Hannah (R-Utica) while meeting face-to-face with Small Business Association reps and city economic heavy hitters.
At that hearing, witnesses testified that Queens was in desperate need of a full-fledged small business development center in order to serve the diverse needs of a diverse crop of entrepreneurs.
Michele Chang, acting chief of staff for the Small Business Administration in Washington, fielded questions and heard testimonies to potentially better the agency’s ability to be effective.
One of the dominating arguments at the hearing focused on minority small business owners and what the Small Business Association and Department of Commerce could do to better engage those groups for the sake of the economy.
Meng said minorities in New York owned 607,000 businesses and women owned 595,000 enterprises. Immigrants also make up almost half of all businesses throughout New York City, she said.
In her prepared statement, Chang said SBA-guaranteed loans were three to five times more likely than conventional loans to go to minority and women-owned businesses.
Anyone looking to schedule an appointment should call (718) 482-5315 or email email@example.com, Meng said.
By Phil Corso