2018-05-09 / Front Page

Queens Chamber of Commerce Presents Chamber-on-the-Go

By Thomas Cogan
The Queens Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Chamber-on-the-Go initiative of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (NYCSBS), had a meeting on the last day in April at Plaza College, 118-33 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens, where they presented vital information to those persons wanting to start or maintain a business in the city.  The general overview was explained by SBS representatives, who placed emphasis on Minority and Women’s Business Eligibility (M/WBE) requirements.  The QCC speakers referred to all that as it applied to Queens.  Those businesspersons, both experienced and relatively new, expressed appreciation for the guidance that was offered, since most or all of them had had recent or continuous confrontation with the city’s infamously difficult requirements and procedures.

The meeting was opened by Paola Martinez, program manager, division of business services, Chamber-on-the-Go.  She was followed by QCC’s Jackie Donado, who said QCC, in conjunction with Chamber-on-the-Go, has been dispatching business experts to various parts of Queens (as other chambers of commerce dispatch other experts to the neighborhoods of the other four boroughs) to connect there with business owners, many of whom could use the aid.  She talked about the way QCC covered the “B-20s” in the Rockaways, from Beach 20th Street to Beach Channel Drive, asking owners to fill out surveys (though some of them declined to do that, being anxious about consequences) and questioning them about problems or situations they might have.  She mentioned a Chinese proprietor with a damaged storefront who was bewildered by the way his applications about it to the city seemed to go nowhere.  They gave him some guidance that might have been helpful, she said. 

She introduced Roy Allen, an external affairs associate for the SBS, but his appearance was first delayed by Martinez, who urged attendees to complete the information sheets handed out to them, and then QCC’s Executive Director Thomas Grech, who said the chamber’s job is to talk to the businesses of Queens in their own language and to advise on compliance, so proprietors can avoid committing violations.  Allen at last gained the focus of attention and quickly took advantage of it, to tell his visitors about doing business with the city.

As an indication that he was willing to help them, he told them his office phone number, 212-618-8947, and the hotline number of PTAC, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, 212-513-6444. The city buys “anything and everything,” he said, though it makes nothing.  Everything is procured through contract.  It is part of his PTAC duty to assure that those under contract will be paid, perhaps even on time, he said.  Anyone doing business with the city must have an FMS (financial management services) vendor number, which can be obtained from a vendor enrollment center.

Allen further explained the M/WBE certification mentioned by Martinez.  He had a lot of blank application forms to hand out after his talk, though they are available online also, on http//on.nyc.gov/mwbeapp or the Online Certification Portal at http//nyc.gov/certifyonline.  He advised that Mozilla Firefox, the open source Web browser, should be used.

There is much to read about eligibility requirements and a checklist of required documents before the eight-page M/WBE certification application itself is reached.  Included, for those perhaps confused by the process, is a running reminder on each page of the certification hotline number, 212-513-6311.  Once attained, certification lasts for five years.

Audience members had a lot of questions.  A woman named Celia asked about legal assistance because her business with the city entails federal import/export licenses.  Others, all over the room, were asked to introduce themselves before making inquiries.  More than one renovator of kitchens and bathrooms (and of more than one gender) identified themselves, and also there was a teacher of financial literacy and a medical device trader; a woman with a DCAS contract, looking for further city business; and a CPA and profitability consultant who declared that there isn’t a tax problem he has encountered that he hasn’t solved. In addition, there was a woman who was both an aromatherapy practitioner and children’s book author; and a woman who supplies interns for companies, which got the immediate attention of Martinez, who was in need of one. No doubt others had their needs met, or at least addressed, as a result of the meeting.   


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