BY BENJAMIN FANG
Flushing is officially putting its small businesses on the digital map.
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) joined local elected officials on Thursday to unveil a new website for Flushing.
The digital portal is part of a $1.55 million marketing campaign called Flushing Fantastic to promote the neighborhood’s small businesses.
“Whatever you can think of, we have it here,” said Councilman Peter Koo. “People can come here to enjoy their day of eating, shopping and cultural events.”
Flushing, which boasts New York City’s fourth largest commercial district, is home to a variety of small businesses, cultural venues and historical landmarks. The website, officials said, will help showcase all the neighborhood has to offer.
The site will include a “Flushing A-Z” list of businesses, an online documentary series, local promotions, and an events calendar. Visitors can plan out an itinerary with an interactive map and see recommendations for tours and activities.
The campaigning is funded by a grant from the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS).
“Flushing is fantastic,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “This is a wide broadcast of what we offer in this great city of ours.”
John Choe, executive director of the Flushing chamber, said the campaign is about putting their “best foot forward online.”
“We have a lot of mom-and-pop stores that put their blood, sweat and tears in this community,” he said. “How do we support that community and make sure that going forward, we’re putting our best intellect, our best creative ideas and our resources behind them?”
The team of local organizations and elected officials launched the campaign in June. The theme of “Flushing Fantastic” is “bold, authentic, international.”
Choe said the chamber previously conducted a commercial district needs assessment to understand how to best advocate for small businesses. They found that the neighborhood lacked an online presence.
Working together with SBS and AAFE, the chamber hired people to help design and build the website and strategize for the campaign.
In addition to providing a website, the campaign will organize workshops for business owners on social media techniques.
“Maybe you don’t know how to use Facebook or Instagram,” Choe said. “We can teach you how to do that so you’re actually benefiting from the people who are coming into the community.”
He acknowledged that there’s a “generational gap” among business owners. Some longtime restaurants, for example, don’t even have a website, let alone any social media presence.
“I think part of that is they’re used to doing things a certain way,” he said. “But also, I think there’s a language issue as well.”
The next phase of the campaign will be to integrate language access into their technology so business owners can use the resources in Chinese, Korean and other languages.
“They don’t necessarily know how to market to a wider audience,” he added. “We want to help them take that next step, not just rely on their traditional client base.”
Choe said they will also look to reach out beyond the city to market Flushing’s shops and venues, getting in touch with foreign consulates and trade delegations to attract more tourism.
“If you want to see the touristy part of New York, go to Manhattan and visit the Empire State Building,” he said. “If you want to see the real New York, come to Flushing, Queens.”