The Greater Flushing Chamber of
Commerce celebrated its two-year anniversary at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel last Thursday. The event, which was called “A Better Tomorrow,” also honored four guests who were given “Neighborhood Hero” awards for their service to the community of Flushing.
The four honorees were Senior Pastor of Macedonia AME Church Rev. Dr. Richard O. McEachern, former President of the Flushing Chinese Business Association Liu Tee Shu, President of the Korean American Association of Queens Paul Yoo and Senior Vice President of Monroe College Evan Jerome.
Also in attendance were members of the Chamber, hundreds of business owners, other community leaders and personalities, like reporter Van Tieu of NY1, who MC’d the event, and comedian Ishmael Maldanado who did a stand-up set during dinner. Several elected officials also attended, including state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D-Flushing).
“Tonight’s theme is ‘A Better Tomorrow’ which sums up our vision for Flushing,” said John Choe, executive director of the Chamber. He cited the many Flushing entrepreneurs who he said work hard every day, but also mentioned the challenges that they face.
“I also see many mom and pop stores closing, professionals leaving, and long time businesses displaced by escalating rents, excessive government fines, competition from big box stores and crumbling infrastructure,” he said in his opening speech. “The Chamber is doing everything we can to assist our business community and our entrepreneurs so that we can survive and support one another. As we stand on the face of this uncertainty together, we can build a better tomorrow.”
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce works to improve Flushing’s reputation as a center of business, while also making it easier for entrepreneurs to grow there. The Chamber works to clean up the neighborhood, facilitate networking, increase small business visibility at events such as night markets, and provide services for businesses and residents alike. But Choe argues that it was equally important to honor the community leaders who helped get Flushing started. That’s why the Chamber gave out the awards.
“While the Chamber has done an amazing amount of community service, that work could not have been accomplished without the work of people who have built the foundations of the community here,” Choe told the Queens Tribune. “The people that we honored are part of the space of very influential community leaders. We call them neighborhood heroes.”
Honoree Shu has spent 28 years in the restaurant business, owning eight successful New York restaurants, and now dedicates her time to charitable events. She founded the Chinese American Women’s Commerce Association before being elected as president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association in 2010.
Monroe College’s Jerome has offered Flushing residents and businesses access to educational resources. In partnerships with the Chamber, Jerome also initiated English literacy classes in Flushing called “English Now!” and an entry level “Tech Boot Camp.”
Honoree Yoo, of the Korean American Association of Queens, led the organization to recognition by many elected officials and funding by the City of New York. He has been involved in several community endeavors, including the establishment of the Murray Hill Merchants Association, the beautification of Murray Hill Station and the renovation of the 149th street bridge.
Reverend McEachern is both a religious leader with the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church and a leader in affordable housing. Under his leadership of the Macedonia Plaza Community Development Corporation, he has led the development of 143 units of affordable housing.
Looking forward, Choe says he hopes that the Chamber can continue its work in the community, particularly around rebranding Flushing, to make the rest of the city and the world see past the stereotypes and understand that Flushing is a dynamic place of business with very human stories.
“We’re working on a couple of different campaigns to expand on this notion of Flushing as a world fair. We did host the World Fair previously,” Choe said. “We feel, Flushing, if you look at it now, every day is a World Fair here. We have people from around the world who are bringing their culture and their unique perspective and redefining what it means to be a New Yorker and what it means to be an American, and the Chamber is at the forefront of really uplifting these stories.”
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