Seth Bornstein, the executive director of Queens Economic Development Corporation, which operates our member The Entrepreneur’s Space incubator, recently sent around a very nice essay on the relationship between the business incubator and its surrounding neighborhood. The full essay is posted with his permission after the break.
Since opening the Entrepreneur’s Space in January, the QEDC has received a lot of great press about it. This has spurred deep interest; to date, we have more than 100 clients — and we look forward to many more.
Many of the articles refer to our location as “a gritty industrial Zone,” a street with “mostly auto uses,” or “unattractive.” As I spend more time at the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City, I realize that the one square block around our incubator is a lot more than it appears. It is home to more than 40 businesses, an eclectic mix that ranges from a family-owned plumbing supply company that has been around for over 50 years and an immigrant-owned commercial laundry, to a repair shop for food carts, a lighting-equipment division of Kaufman Astoria Studios, a religious center, a day treatment program for the disabled, and a coffee shop.
This block is a village. While it might not be considered pretty, it is certainly neighborly. And, as neighbors, we help each other out. The food-cart repair shop helps maintain the carts of Cake & Shake, one of our clients. This year, we split the cost of a snow blower with Albatross Equipment next door; and the counterman at the All American deli at the corner knew how I liked my coffee on my second visit. This little block of businesses employs probably 400 people, has a payroll of a few million dollars, and generates enough in property and sales taxes to pay the salaries of all the teachers in the nearby public school.
For businesses on industrial blocks such as 37th Street, the QEDC has created a number of programs. They encourage and instruct, and they support growth. Our Business Blueprint Series includes such useful programs as Starting Your Food Business, Green Business, and Using Excel. On March 30th we salute Women in Business with a Networking Session at the Entrepreneur Space. And our business counselors are always available to meet with new and emerging entrepreneurs.
The theme here is small business. None of my neighbors on 37th Street is a Fortune 500 company or listed on a stock exchange. But the block is like so many of the borough’s industrial and commercial neighborhoods. They may not be pretty to look at, but they are solid, diverse communities that create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the borough and the city. The jobs they create are truly beautiful.