Hustling to Help Brooklyn Business
In the last two months, the Chamber has been everywhere. We were in DUMBO for our annual BKLYN DESNIGNS show that drew thousands of visitors to the area and celebrated the Borough’s furnishing designers and manufacturers, we were in Dyker Heights for our annual golf outing, we were in Downtown Brooklyn for our annual Not-For-Profit Summit and the Only Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, we were in Sunset Park for our Asian Heritage Month Celebration, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Williamsburg, and so on. You name a neighborhood. We were there. Heck, we even did some events in Chicago and Milwaukee.
This flurry of activity is a lot like the activity we have seen in Brooklyn over the past few years. This month State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report showing private sector growth of 20% in Brooklyn since 2003- roughly double that of the other four boroughs; wages grew by 42% over that time period. Most impressively, employment in the manufacturing sector is on the rise, reversing decades of decline.
Along the same vein, the Chamber also released its Spring 2014 Labor Market Review report: IT Grows in Brooklyn which took a look at how the tech sector has been growing in this borough since 2005. There has been a 44% growth in the number of tech firms and 56% growth in the number of tech employees located here.
These reports tell us what we already know: Brooklyn is hot. We are the hippest, coolest place on earth and people want to live here, work here, and play here.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do.
The unemployment rate in Brooklyn is too high, the cost of doing business is significant, barriers to entry exist at every level, and a lack of available space for businesses to grow.
It is our job to make sure that the benefits of Brooklyn’s renaissance continue to flow to the entire borough.
When a business grows out of its space in Williamsburg and finds rents are too high for them to expand where they are, we have to make sure they look at places like Southern, Central, and Eastern Brooklyn that are thirsty for opportunity.
We have to make sure we have great job training and job screening programs to make sure the residents who live here now qualify for the kinds of jobs that are going to be available.
We need to find ways of building office space that is so sorely lacking in our borough that we trail not just Manhattan, but Westchester County in terms of office square footage.
We need to continue to find ways to help businesses navigate through the myriad regulations and barriers to capital that entrepreneurs face as they try to open their own business and create their own Brooklyn success story. Stories like the one about Michelle Lewis, whose company Spoonable you can read about on page 16 of the June/July edition of the Brooklyn's Progress.
That is why we hustle so hard, and the results are paying off. As you saw on the cover, with the addition of Nature’s Grill, the Chamber of Commerce now has a new record 1,700 members. It took us three months to move from the 1,500-member to 1,600-member thresholds and two months to go from 1,600 to 1,700 members.
We hope the pace quickens even more as we head towards our next big events, Brooklyn Eats – Brooklyn’s Premier food and beverage trade show - on June 27 and the Building Brooklyn Awards Dinner celebrating the borough’s best renovations and new construction on July 23.
I strongly encourage you to attend these and all of our other great events in the months ahead. We are going to work even harder to make sure that our members have every possible opportunity for success so that the economic growth and opportunity some Comptroller talks about 10 years from now is farther reaching and more sustainable than anything Brooklyn has ever witnessed.
See you at the next event!