Tag Archives: Queens Economic Development Corporation

Visa Waiver Program may boost borough tourism

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

One Queens politician is attempting to boost tourism to the borough by opening the nation’s doors to more countries.

Congressmember Joe Crowley recently announced he will introduce a measure in the House of Representatives that would encourage the federal government to expand its Visa Waver Program to include at least three new countries – Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

The Visa Waiver Program currently allows visitors from 36 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Countries included in the program represented 65 percent of all tourists entering the country in 2010, amounting to the largest source of inbound travel that year. Crowley believes expanding the program will be greatly beneficial to Queens.

“We need to do all we can to make Queens a destination point, and not just a gateway to Manhattan,” said the congressmember. “The history and diversity of Queens has so much to offer to travelers, and increasing travel and tourism is one of the most effective tools we have in our pocket to spur job growth and foster economic activity on the local level. It’s simple: the easier it is for international tourists to visit the U.S., the more likely they will.”

Tourism generates $46.5 billion in economic impact for the city and supports over 300,000 jobs. While Manhattan may be the premier destination in New York, 25 percent of international travelers visited the outer-boroughs in 2010, and spent $6 billion there.

“Efforts that can lead to increased tourism opportunities are most welcome,” said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Congressmember Crowley’s measure will be a great help to maximize tourism and hospitality efforts in our nation’s most diverse county.”

The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), which recently revived the Queens Tourism Council in an effort to unite businesses towards supporting tourism to the borough, also supported Crowley’s plan.

“As the most diverse county in the country, Queens has a great deal to offer visitors,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the QEDC. “The QEDC/Queens Tourism Council is supportive of Congressman Crowley’s efforts in showcasing our borough and encouraging more people to ‘Discover Queens’.”


From (Rooftop) Farm to (Restaurant) Table

| ddynak@queenscourier.com

Food and real estate. Not always in the same sentence, yet actually always connected. Our food (after it arrives from farms) is washed, sorted, peeled, processed, packaged and shipped from a warehouse in the industrial part of town. It is then sold as grocery or served by a waiter at a retail location near you. Or, for a great number of New Yorkers, delivered via bicycle, trucked by Fresh Direct, or mailed inside a box full of dry ice. It’s been this way for quite some time, ever since the farms of the Long Island began converting into factories and apartment buildings of today’s Queens County.

It seems what we eat, and how it is grown and prepared, is always undergoing transformation. For example, organizations like Brooklyn Grange, Eagle Street Rooftop Farms and BK Farmyards, among many others, grow food crops on rooftops and inside urban gardens. A growing number of restaurant chefs attempt to grow their own herbs and vegetables in the city. The most ambitious one: Valentino’s on the Green in Bayside will try to “produce 80 percent of the restaurant’s herbs, vegetables, fruits, fish, seafood and mushrooms using stacks of modified shipping containers”.

I myself have noticed increased tenant activity in the organic, sustainable and natural food category. From hydroponic farms inside warehouses to organic stores, neighborhoods like Long Island City and Astoria are slowly catching up to Brooklyn. From BluePrint Cleanse juices on 38th Street, to BAO Foods’s Kombucha Tea on Borden Avenue, ultra-healthy products made naturally or organically in Queens are making headlines nationally. BAO has even initiated a sort of a food incubator inside its factory, offering access to USDA-certified organic kitchen to start-ups and small operators who normally can’t afford access to commercial space or equipment. We’ve also worked recently with a gluten-free commercial bakery and raw cookies manufacturer. It seems everyone wants to come to this part of town because NYC is simply the most exciting market for these specialty foods.

Even the city government is chipping in. On 37th Street off Northern Boulevard, a special kind of Entrepreneur Space sponsored by Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) sits inside a warehouse: a Food and Business Incubator. It features 24/7 access to commercial kitchens, use of professional equipment, commercial refrigeration and office space for food start-ups, offered at below-market rates, allowing small businesses and newbie operations to get started without large capital investment and expensive overhead.

As food consumers, New Yorkers now have a grade system to help them choose a restaurant based on cleanliness. We judge restaurants using “A’s,” “B’s” and “C’s” as if we really understood how these grades are assigned. But looking at store shelves and menus, words like “organic,” “all-natural,” “raw” and “locally-grown” are on the rise and certainly in vogue. And, it is actually quite possible today to eat a whole meal made using ingredients entirely grown and prepared somewhere between 58th Street and the East River, between Bowery Bay and Newtown Creek. It’s come a full circle in a way, because as recently as 100 years ago most of Queens was actually all farmland. Take a trip to the Queens County Farm Museum to see the proof. Bon Appétit!



News Briefs: Small Business Workshop in L.I.C.

| bdoda@queenscourier.com


The Queens Economic Development Corporation will offer workshops and clinics for small business owners this fall. While the clinics are free, workshops will cost $25 in order to cover costs.

Topics covered will include networking, taxes, pricing and compliance with city regulations. The workshops and clinics will take place at the Entrepreneur Space at 36-46 37th Street in Long Island City from 6 to 8 p.m.

Speakers include Bianco Di Salvo, a professor in the marketing department at Fordham University, Gail Roseman, a partner at Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty, LLC, and Susan Harkavy, an instructor on guerilla marketing at New York Designs.

For more information regarding scheduling, call 718-263-0546 or visit www.queensny.org.

Family Fright Night


The Flushing YMCA will hold their Family Fright Night on Friday, October 28 at 138-46 Northern Boulevard. Activities will include a haunted house, costume contest, face painting, dancing, spooky stories, carnival games and more. Call 718-961-6880 for more details.

Fall Festival


Councilmember Peter Koo and the Parks Department recently announced this year’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 29 from 1 until 5 p.m. at the P.S. 20 playground (Union Street and Barclay Avenue). Activities will include free rides, games, pumpkin patch, live entertainment, karaoke and more. To sponsor this event, contact Judy Chen at 718-888-8747.

I.S. 178Q celebrates 16th Anniversary


Councilmember Mark Weprin addressed the students, parents, teachers, and fellow alumni who gathered at P.S./I.S. 178Q, the Holliswood School located at 189-10 Radnor Road in recognition of the school’s 60th anniversary.

“The Holliswood School has provided students with an outstanding education for six decades, and I know that it will continue to shine,” said Weprin.

Talent showcase at Cross Island Y


Auditions are still open for this year’s “Y Kids Got Talent” live event to be held on Saturday, October 22 at 6 p.m. at the Cross Island YMCA, located at 238-10 Hillside Avenue. Anyone with acting, singing, dancing, acrobatics, marital arts or musical talent is encouraged to contact Jamé Cohn at 718-551-9314 or by email at jcohn@ymcanyc.org for audition scheduling information.

Chancellor speaks to ACA


New York City Public Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was the featured speaker at the monthly Astoria Civic Association meeting.

Walcott answered a number of questions from teachers, students and parents from Astoria and other parts of Queens during the hour-long meeting, ranging from the Department’s no tolerance policy for bullying to exploring the possibility of implementing additional gifted and talented programs at Astoria’s middle schools.

The association meets on the first Tuesday of every month at Riccardo’s and features a new speaker and topic. The meeting time has changed to 7 p.m. For more information visit the Astoria Civic Association Facebook page, or call 718-545-5353.