As it kicked off its second year of local business advocacy, the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce had a simple question, “What’s Up, North Brooklyn?”
A large crowd of North Brooklyn business owners gathered last Thursday, at Over the Eight, as North Brooklyn’s business advocacy group held its first event of the year, “What’s Up, North Brooklyn? Volume One.”
Guests mingled over beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres in the intimate setting of the Union Avenue bar – further inside chairs had been arranged semi-circular around a podium to facilitate an interactive discussion about the present state of the business community in North Brooklyn and about the concerns and achievements of business owners in the neighborhood.
Standing in front of a stylish poster displaying the name of the event, Jeff Mann, the President of the Chamber welcomed guests and outlined some of the organization’s plans for the coming year.
“Last year was a great year for us, especially our networking events,” Mann said. “We brought together a lot of North Brooklyn’s consumers with its businesses. We’re going to continue to put on great events, like the “What’s Up, North Brooklyn” series, but also to do more advocacy work for local business.”
Organizing meetings with key members of Mayor DeBlasio’s administration, expanding its Clean Greenpoint program and upgrading its web presence to help promote local business are just some of the initiatives planned for 2014. A huge mural highlighting the neighborhood’s environmental history is also in the offing, thanks to the Chamber’s receipt of a grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. Its unveiling is expected in early September.
Greenpoint Chamber events are expected to get a big boost this year from its newly named Events Committee featuring East River Ferry’s Paul Samulski, Red Star’s Eric Hall and Josh Cohen of Anella, the evening’s sponsor.
“What’s Up, North Brooklyn? Volume One” also featured a homecoming of sorts. Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna returned to the community she represented in the City Council for 12 years to serve as the evening’s keynote speaker. Reyna asserted the importance of protecting small business owners and highlighted four key areas for business owners to take note: getting capital through micro loans, finding affordable spaces, connecting with the workforce and navigating the myriad bureaucracies of the government.
“This is an uncertain time especially with new leaders in office,” said Reyna. “And that’s why we have to ensure that small businesses have an ally and advocate for them to build from the ground up. Just as they invest in us, we must invest in them.”
The business community’s relationship with new administration was one of several topics discussed at a roundtable featuring Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who along with Mann spearheaded the rebirth of the organization, former District Leader Lincoln Restler, Open Space Alliance Executive Director Ed Janoff and North Brooklyn Creative Economic Zone author Bill Harvey. Other topics chosen by the audience included the development of Domino, the need for increased commercial space and improving transportation, especially during the G train’s five-week shutdown later this year.
Up next for the Greenpoint Chamber will be Rediscover & Redefine, a new series set to begin in April. Additional information can be found on the Greenpoint Chamber website: www.greenpointchamber.com.
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