Tag Archives: Chamber of Commerce

Queens discounts for veterans and military


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

VFW veterans

BY MICHAEL SHAIN 

Just in time for Veterans Day, a string of Queens businesses are offering discounts for those who served selflessly in the military.

”It’s a way for us, as Queens residents, to say thank you to our veterans who put on the uniform for their country,” said Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, standing in front of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 885 in College Point.

Nearly 30 merchants and professional service firms have signed up to be the first to offer discounts, according to the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored and organized the project.

The businesses range from restaurants to law firms to real estate offices to martial arts studios located from one side of the borough to the other.

“So many of our members were eager to participate in the Queens VETS program,” said Jack Freidman, the executive director of the Chamber.

Vets can participate in the program by filing out a short form available at Assemblyman Simanowitz’s district office (15906 71st Ave., Flushing, or call 718-969-1508). A valid military ID or service record is required to qualify.

Vets will then get a membership card that can be used at business around the borough for discounts.

“This isn’t just limited to Chamber of Commerce members,” Simanowitz said. “We want every business in the county to join this program.”

The program is modeled on one started in 2011 by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick.

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New Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce aims to unify businesses


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Downtown Flushing bristles with businesses. Yet for all its economic activity, the area doesn’t have a Chamber of Commerce to advocate for the businesses’ needs in government. But that’s about to change.

John Choe is the executive director for the new Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. The organization is being put together and Choe plans on having a launch party for the organization in December.

“The chamber will look at making sure we not only have policies that benefit businesses,” Choe said, “but we also get the same level of attention that reflects the level of economic taxes that we generate for the government.”

Flushing’s previous chamber of commerce dissolved in 2012 after 80 years of operation, according to earlier reports. The previous organization, the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, began to recede in importance as a new wave of Asian immigrants moved to the area, bringing with them their own business groups.

Choe is hoping to not share his predecessor’s fate by bringing the various business interest groups under one flag and “creating a multicultural chamber at its core.”

“We want to create a chamber of commerce that will reflect the diversity of the greater Flushing area,” he said.

The area’s business groups include the Flushing Business Improvement District, Korean American Small Business Service Center of New York, Flushing Chinese Business Association, Taiwan Merchants Association, One Flushing and the Flushing Development Center.

“It’s a complicated task,” Choe said.

News of the chamber’s creation was welcomed by many in the community.

“The creation of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is a good idea because it will help small business owners by providing them with a resource that is dedicated to expanding their business opportunities and financial growth,” Councilman Peter Koo said. “We are still living in a climate of overregulation that remains challenging for many small business owners, so the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce will be a welcomed addition to the diverse business community here.”

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said that his organization would be willing to work with Choe and the chamber.

“Anybody who is willing to pitch in for the Flushing community is always a good thing,” Yu said. “We work with everybody. We welcome everybody to fight for the community.”

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The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

- Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Breakfast with the Borough President


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

Fresh off her State of the Borough address delivered at the end of January, Borough President Helen Marshall updated district managers and representatives from all of Queens’ community boards, members of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and various guests from around the borough at the annual Breakfast with the Borough President held at the LaGuardia Marriott in East Elmhurst.

Each year, Marshall takes the opportunity to update those in attendance about a range of issues that will affect the borough in the coming year. She began with an optimistic economic outlook for 2012, which she believes hinges on the city’s many tourism opportunities — with Queens leading the way.

“With our two major airports, Queens is the gateway to New York — and the gateway to the world,” she said. “This is something we need to continue to capitalize on.”

Marshall specifically mentioned Cuomo’s announcement that the nation’s largest convention center will be built in South Ozone Park, while also stating that a smaller convention space is still being planned for Willets Point.

“The Willets Point convention center will not be in competition with other centers in the borough, it will be a compliment,” she said. “We are going to stay on the necks of the elected officials and make sure it gets built.”

Before Marshall rose to give her speech, she was introduced by Carol Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Conslato told the audience that Marshall has been able to accomplish so much during her time in office because she truly cares about Queens and wants to see it prosper.

“Helen is truly dedicated to this borough,” said Conslato. “She’s passionate about everything that she does, and passion makes all the difference.”

Marshall lauded the Chamber for being an advocate to the business community and spurring much of the growth — and the demand for growth — around the borough. She said that the Chamber has “done a very good job promoting Queens from a business standpoint.”

Jack Friedman, the Chamber’s executive director, said recent developments in the Queens business landscape make this a very special time in the borough — and he credited Marshall with facilitating much of the growth.

“There are so many things happening. I’ve never had more fun than I’m having right now,” he said. “And much of it is thanks to this borough president.”

Dorothy Matinale


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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President of the Chamber of Commerce of Douglas Manor

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Dorothy Matinale is currently the president of the Douglas Manor Chamber of Commerce and helped start the chamber. She participates in local events in Douglas Manor including: the Douglaston arts festival, the Turkey Trot, the Holiday tree lighting and caroling, the mega yard sale and Douglaston Community Day. She also volunteers at her two sonss schools, the School for Language and Communication Development in Woodside and Holy Cross High School in Bayside.
PERSONAL: Matinale has been married to her husband Lou, for 24 years. She has three children, Mark, 16, Andrew, 13 and Dorothy-Ann, 12.

OCCUPATION: Matinale has a Masters in Elementary Education and taught for 11 years. Currently she is a licensed real estate broker and has had her own office for nine years.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Trying to balance everything in life. Between being a good mother and wife, keeping up with my job and giving back to my community it gets a little stressful at times but I always seem to manage it all.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “The day I adopted each of my children.”

INSPIRATION: “My mother – she was always involved in the community. She taught me to give back and now I do the same, as I hope my own children would.” – Georgia Panagi