By Mark Garzon
The city’s chambers of commerce gathered together at Vaughn College last week to honor members of the Minority and Women-owned Businesses and Enterprises (MWBE) program.
Each chamber commended two MWBE members from their borough for their work and success, as well as a way to celebrate the city’s diverse business community.
According to Queens Chamber of Commerce president Mayra DiRico, there are 539,000 minority-owned and 413,000 women-owned businesses in the city.
“Minority and women owned businesses play such an important role in helping our local economy,” said DiRico. “These numbers represent a very powerful economic engine for the city and for all of us.
“Their journey serves as an inspiration to other minority and women owned business leaders who are finding this purpose each and every day,” she added.
During the ceremony, women were highlighted for their increasing role as business leaders. Of the ten honorees, seven were women.
Honorees from Brooklyn included Trevor Smith, chief marketing officer of Tower Isles Frozen Foods, and Susan Doban, president of her own architecture firm.
Honorees from Queens were Nayan Parikh, owner of Ashnu International Corporation, and James Hendon, CEO of the Energy Economic Development Corporation.
Geri Sciortino, owner of The Bronx Design Group, was honored by the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, She described the difficulties breaking into a predominantly male industry 25 years ago. She now works alongside her daughter.
“I’m proud that the future of our company will continue under the leadership of a very smart woman,” she said.
Public Advocate Letitia James described the importance of increasing the presence of minority and women-owned businesses by improving access to programs, assistance and city contracts.
“We must do more to in the city to address and improve the business atmosphere,” she said. “When we lift up hard-working families, we lift up entire communities,” she said.