BY JESSICA MEDITZ
A forecast for thunderstorms didn’t stop members of the tech community from attending the first networking event hosted last month by the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s new Queens Tech Council.
“I’ve built an amazing network for myself just by being at these events,” said Mo Faisal, founder and CEO of The Money Hub and FinGem and co-founder of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area, who attended the event at ICONYC Brewing in Long Island City. “Every small business owner, entrepreneur or anyone who prospectively wants to build something or be a leader has to go out there and talk to people.”
The Queens Tech Council launched in February with the goal of promoting the tech industry in the borough. Council members include representatives from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Pursuit, LIC Partnership, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Crown Castle, Cornell Tech, and The Business Incubator Association of New York State.
The council will focus on ensuring Queens is producing the talent companies look for, getting the resources and capital tech companies need, and helping businesses in traditional industries successfully integrate new technologies.
“We work with local colleges and businesses who have educational opportunities, whether it’s apprenticeships, upscaling opportunities for the current workforce or anything that can bring more skilled workers into the tech industry,” said Michelle Watson, a technical specialist at the NYC Small Business Resource Network and Queens Tech Council member.
The Queens Tech Council has two working groups. The policy and government group works to highlight the tech industry’s needs to elected officials, while the investment and industry group works to secure both public and private funding.
Chamber president and CEO Tom Grech discussed some of the local tech industry’s recent accomplishments, including the rapid mass production of ventilators during the height of COVID-19 by Boyce Technologies in Long Island City.
Borough President Donovan Richards highlighted the role the tech community will play in the future of the borough and, ultimately, the city.
“We want Queens to be the template for where we need to go, but we can only do that with you,” he told the crowd. “That means networking, relationships, and making sure we’re all rowing in the same direction.”
Rachel Loeb, president and CEO at New York City Economic Development Corporation, was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event. She said EDC and NYC Small Business Resource Network collaborated to ensure the survival and success of local small businesses during unprecedented times.
“We’ve been working together as a partnership so that we could get crucial skills when COVID hit and resources to small businesses so that they can survive, whether it be digitizing their business or just staying open,” she said.
Just last week, Loeb attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Bartlett Dairy’s new headquarters in Queens. Additionally, Hyatt Regency JFK recently celebrated its grand opening at Resorts World New York City, and JetBlue announced that its headquarters will remain in Long Island City.