2011-02-02 / Features

Credit Ready Fair Encourages Businesses To Seek Loans

BY THOMAS COGAN


(L. to. r) Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Mark Weprin, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the Queens Chamber of Commerce Credit Fair. 
Photos Annette Hanze Alberts (L. to. r) Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Mark Weprin, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the Queens Chamber of Commerce Credit Fair. Photos Annette Hanze Alberts The Credit Ready New York City Fair sponsored by the city and two groups in business and banking, was held on January 26 at the Bulova Corporate Center, home of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Despite winter weather, attendees crowded the space provided by the Queens Chamber to confer on lending and finance with banking and business people. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (DManhattan) and Councilmembers Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Mark Weprin (DOakland Gardens) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) joined Borough President Helen Marshall in greeting and encouraging both visitors and hosts who are looking for ways out of the current economic recession.

“The best way to get out of a recession is by creating private sector jobs,” Queens Chamber Executive Vice President Jack Friedman said.


Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman. Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman. Quinn told those gathered that often people live in expectation of job creation by the government, and she would gladly accept such jobs if they became available. But, she stressed, it is the community’s first duty to create jobs domestically, in New York or anywhere else. She said the presence of several banks at the meeting indicated that they want to be out there lending. That might not seem to be the case to those in small businesses that have been rejected for loans, she said, taking note of a national report saying that many businesses seeking funding have fallen “disturbingly” short of expectations. But, she said, speaking as one who experienced rejection in the days when she worked in non-profits, “if you’ve been rejected, shake it off and try again”, though only after reviewing what might have caused the lenders to turn you down. She said that now she realizes that they want to do business but can’t lend money they do not expect to get back. After observing New York’s

U.S. Senator and

Senate Banking Committee Member Charles Schumer’s effort to encourage lending in the slack upstate economic atmosphere, she said it has shown her that bargains can be struck between banks and small businesses. The interaction during the Credit Ready meeting was further reassuring.

“One thing I know, I don’t know how to run a small business,” Quinn concluded, but said she’s happy to encourage those who believe they do.

Encouraging loans on the banking side is the fact that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can now guaranty up to 85 percent of these loans up to $5 million dollars, thanks to President Obama’s Small Business Jobs Act. Their Web site is www.sba.gov/ny/ny.

Queens Chamber President Carol Conslato introduced the Borough President, saying that Marshall is generally taken for granted instead of being appreciated for considerable public achievements, such as acquiring $113 million for parks and $81 million for libraries while in office. Marshall said she sees banks currently ready to cooperate with businesses, particularly small businesses, which are the backbone of the borough’s economy, employing 85 percent of [the] workforce. She noticed gradual improvement in the local economy but pointed out that un-readiness to borrow on the part of many small business owners is something that has to be overcome. Dromm said the credit fair was being held in his district, which is more than two-thirds immigrant in population. He praised a business named Lety’s Bakery and CafĂ©, 77- 07 37th Ave., as something that was started from the ground up by a sous-chef and currently appears to be prospering. He said other such businesses might be ready to arise similarly, but need lenders to finance their plans. He expressed displeasure at the presence of vacant store space in the 74th Street transportation complex and said he’d work to get it filled. He concluded by saying that fairs such as this one should help to cut through the complexities of getting businesses started. His council colleague, Weprin, who headed the small business committee when in the state Assembly, endorsed Marshall’s observation about the reluctance of many incipient businesspersons to turn to lending agencies. He said that such persons, particularly if they are immigrants, should be educated in ways to seek loans. Comrie said that economic recovery would come through the efforts of entrepreneurs and small businesspersons. The Credit Fair is new and hopeful, he said, and needs feedback from visitors. City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Small Business Development Division Deputy Commissioner David Margalit spoke about credit readiness, saying that for businesspeople it consists of getting educated, prepared and connected. By being educated in the matter of loans, businesspeople can create a proper loan package. A faulty one can terminate any discussion with lenders, he said. He emphasized that there can be different lenders for different businesses. Even if those wishing to start a business have to turn to alternate lenders, and perhaps pay higher interest rates, that is still better than taking out loans on truly high-interest credit cards, he said.

The following are some examples of the services being offered to bridge the gap between surviving and thriving.

Queens Business Outreach Center (BOC) offers free assistance in loans, licenses, financial management, market research, business plan development etc.

NYC Business Solutions is a set of free services offered by the Department of Small Business Services to help businesses start, operate and expand. NYC Business Solutions Centers are located in all five boroughs. Visit www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness for more information.

New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers management and technical assistance to start-ups and existing businesses such as business plan development, legal assistance, incentives, recruiting and training employees. For more information in the Queens location, visit www.sbdc@lagcc.cuny.edu.

The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) operates the Entrepreneur Space, an innovative program which comprises offices, kitchens and conference spaces that one can rent by the day or the shift plus they offer business counseling.

The Small Business Resource Guide, a very useful summary of the many free services available will also be available at SBDC, NYC Business Solutions Centers, councilmembers’ district offices, 311 and on the council Web site, www.council.nyc.gov.

The City Council and the Department of Small Business Services, along with the New York Bankers Association, the New York Business Development Corporation and QEDC, sponsored the credit fair.

Among those manning tables at the fair were the United States SBA, Seedco Financial Services, the New York Business Development Corporation, Queens BOC Network, New York City Business Development Corporation and Chase, M&T Bank, State Bank, Sterling National, Sovereign and Citi Banks.

For those who missed it this time around, another fair will soon be scheduled.

Annette Hanze Alberts Contributed to this story.

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