Queens Quips, May 2015

Queens SOUP hosts crowdfunding dinner

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce organized the first Queens SOUP, a crowdfunding and micro-grant initiative, on Earth Day. The potluck dinner collects money to provide seed funding to launch local projects with community impact.

“Queens SOUP can make starting projects and finding funding easier for local artists and grassroots groups,” said SOUP coordinator Cody Herrmann.

With a $5 donation, participants ate dinner, learned about initiatives and voted for one of four projects. When all the ballots were counted, the money was awarded to the project with the most votes.

Projects included a Flushing community cook-off and food festival, a playwriting in public plazas project, a Tinker Lab class, and an initiative to give disposable cameras to Queens residents.

City launches new step-by-step guide for immigrant entrepreneurs:

During Immigrant Heritage Week, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) released a new guide offering advice for immigrant entrepreneurs who are starting or growing their own small businesses. The guide is available in six different languages: Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian, Korean and Bengali.

It explains to entrepreneurs how to sign a commercial lease, navigate government services, personal and business financial planning, and technology tools and strategies.

“As an immigrant whose grandmother supported the family through entrepreneurship, I know first-hand that owning a business has the power to change lives,” said SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop. “By making information and resources available to immigrant New Yorkers in six languages, we’re helping all of our people, no matter their origin, pursue their dreams.”

Pol introduces bill to create financial assistance program:

State Senator Tony Avella introduced legislation in April that would establish a Financial Assistance to Business (FAB) program. The initiative will specifically help dry cleaning businesses and nail salons across the state upgrade equipment and meet environmental standards.

“The need for these industries to comply with clean air standards and to protect their employees and customers is obvious,” Avella said. “What isn’t obvious, however, is how these small businesses will be able to do so without being forced to cease operations.”

According to Avella, there are significant health risks to the chemicals used in both industries. However, compliance with state regulations on equipment, operation and maintenance can cost businesses up to $150,000. The bill is intended to provide a lending hand to help them remain in business.

Skanska invests $1.8 million to repair little league fields:

Skanska USA, part of the LaGuardia Gateway Partners team building the improved LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, donated $1.8 million to rehabilitate the Elmjack Little League fields in East Elmhurst. Improvements include an upgraded fence, resurfacing portions of the infield and grassy outfield, and relocating the pitcher’s mound and dugouts.

“We have been operating in New York for nearly a century, and Skanska is proud to make meaningful contributions to the Queens community that have a positive impact well beyond the scope of our projects,” said Skanska USA Vice President Thomas Nilsson.

Skanska, which is currently heading the design-build of the LaGuardia project, is also working on the new Kosciuszko Bridge and the reconstruction of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.

Eat Elmhurst Restaurant Week highlights international flavors:

First American International Bank (FAIB) teamed up with Councilman Daniel Dromm to launch Eat Elmhurst Restaurant Week 2017, an initiative to stimulate commercial activity and jumpstart the local economy. From April 22 to April 29, the week-long campaign showcased the array of multicultural cuisines offered in one of New York’s most diverse neighborhoods.

More than 20 restaurants participated in the event, offering customers promotional discounts on meals and certain food items.

“This initiative helps local merchants and is part of a greater, sustained effort to promote the very best of what Elmhurst has to offer,” Dromm said.

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