State forum helps build small business in Queens

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Attendees listen to a presentation by Empire State Development at a small business forum at the Flushing Library. THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola
Attendees listen to a presentation by Empire State Development at a small business forum at the Flushing Library.

Established and potential small business owners filled the auditorium of the Flushing Library with pens and paper in hand (and a few laptops), ready to jot down information on ways to help their small businesses.

Around 250 people attended the August 22 event, which was the last in a series of small business forums that have been held throughout the state since early April.

“This program is all about creating jobs because when small businesses do well, New York does well,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo when the initiative was announced. “It’s so important for us to get out of the office and go into communities to see how we can help anyone who wants to start, grow or improve a business and that’s what this program will do.”

At the forum, representatives from the New York Departments of State, Labor, Taxation and Finance as well as Empire State Development, the State Liquor Authority and the Workers Compensation Board each gave a short presentation. Afterwards, attendees were able to ask the speakers questions.

“What [attendees] should take away from this presentation tonight is that we have resources and services that are available to you free of charge,” said New York State Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David, who introduced the night’s speakers.

In addition to small business grants, programs and online resources, the forum also included important information on laws and taxes that could cost small business owners money or even shut down their businesses.

Though the information discussed is easily available online, for several reasons, people might not know about it because they have limited resources, don’t have time to look online or are recent immigrants and have language barriers, said David.

Home to a large number of small businesses and immigrants, Queens, particularly Flushing, was an appropriate place to end the state’s small businesses forums, he said.

“There’s a large group of people here in Queens that operate small businesses and may not be aware of the services that we have to offer.”

Marc Fox of Fresh Meadows attended the forum because he is considering opening a small business in Queens. After working in the music industry for years, he would like open a music center that has rehearsal space and a store and gives lessons.

He was particularly interested in learning more about grants that could help him start his business, but was disappointed.

“The free money doesn’t sound so free,” he said.

But Fox liked that there are programs in place to help people like him. Although the information can be found online, he said, it was much easier hearing it laid out all at once.

Information for NY state small business owners can be found at www.NYOpenforSmallBusiness.com or www.thenewny.com.