What’s different at the Brooklyn chamber this time?
I would argue that job creation is still necessary in Brooklyn. A lot of folks still need skills development, and they need to be connected to good jobs. In today’s political climate, it seems at times that business is seen as the enemy. The reality is, we need to have meaningful conversations about how the small-business community is impacted by new legislation. And Brooklyn is a small-business economy: 84% of our businesses have fewer than 10 employees.
How does the chamber break through with politicians and advocacy groups?
The reality is, if we keep turning away jobs, then the economy will stop growing and people will not be able to access opportunity. That’s something we as a community have to engage in a thoughtful conversation about. The chamber has three pillars: promotion, support and advocacy. And I’ll put a fourth one in there: convening. When the chamber calls together groups to come around the table, generally people want to be part of that conversation.
What are your top public policy concerns?
Infrastructure. The Brooklyn–Queens Connector. Ferries too. Having multiple transportation options is good for workers, good for businesses and good for residents. You want to be able, in a positive way, to exploit the fact that you have such good transportation infrastructure for business development and residential growth. And paid vacation: Once again the small businesses are going to be negatively impacted the most. And its a cumulative effect: With paid sick leave, increases in minimum wage and now paid vacation, you keep adding to the burdens that small businesses can’t absorb. And you don’t hear from the little guys until it’s too late and they’re out of business. These are the businesses that sustain neighborhoods. Even if you could quantify how many businesses go under, how many more will not start up, will not be launched, will not create new jobs. They won’t do it here. They’ll do it in Pennsylvania.