Downtown

Outgoing Brooklyn Chamber President Andrew Hoan looks back at his achievements

May 11, 2018 By Andrew Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Hoan with a gifted bottle of Brooklyn Winery’s Reserve Merlot with (from left) Joy Sian, Kevin Thompson, Diana Zelvin, Charley Ryan, Martha Holstein, Monica Holowasz and Josh Cohen. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Hoan ended his two-year term in classic Brooklyn style Thursday with a stop at the North Brooklyn Chamber’s venerable Greenpoint Trailer — where he received (what else?) a bottle of Brooklyn Winery Merlot from North Brooklyn Chamber President Paul Samulski.

It was a short tenure running the state’s largest chamber, but Hoan said his greatest legacy would be his role in creating Brooklyn Alliance Capital, which makes micro-loans with a focus on marginalized entrepreneurs such as women, people of color and immigrants.

Funded by a federal grant, its loan terms are more favorable than the federal Small Business Administration, Hoan said.

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Since 2017, Brooklyn Alliance Capital has loaned more than $15,000 to businesses such as Amber Lasciak’s REDU NYC, which transforms waste into furniture and household products. When Lasciak started her company, unexpected repairs consumed much of her initial investment. A $5,000 loan from Brooklyn Alliance Capital allowed her to open a street-level store in on Van Brundt Street in Red Hook.

“I’m really proud of the way Brooklyn Alliance Capital has helped the community,” Hoan said.

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Rick Russo chosen as acting president, see below

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Hoan’s other achievements include relocating Brooklyn Designs to the Brooklyn Museum, forming Brooklyn Prime with Borough President Eric Adams in the hopes of drawing Amazon’s planned campus to Brooklyn, creation of the next 100-year strategic plan, and a celebration of the Chamber’s centennial that was a rousing success.

He also presided over the merger of Samulski’s then-Greenpoint Chamber into the larger borough-wide group (hence the wine gift).

Hoan was just a member of the Chamber when Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island  and other low-lying areas — and he realized the importance of a strong business alliance.  

“It looked like a war zone,” he said. “There was so much damage—I really saw then how vital a role the chamber could play in bringing people’s lives and businesses back from the devastation.”

Not bad for a fellow who came to Brooklyn in 2004 as an Americorps worker.

“I love Brooklyn,” Hoan concluded. “I met my wife here, I got married, my child was born in Brooklyn”

“It’s been a good ride.”

Hoan said he is moving to the West Coast for personal reasons.

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Rick Russo to serve as Chamber’s acting president

 The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce announced on Friday that Chamber stalwart Rick Russo will serve as acting president, replacing Andrew Hoan, effective Monday, May 14.

Russo will maintain his role as chief operating officer at the same time, until designation of a new president and CEO.

Russo has served in this capacity during previous transitions and can easily step into the position, Chamber Chairwoman Denise Arbesu said in a statement. Russo will “fully execute” the role of the president, supported by senior staff members, she said.

Russo has held senior management positions at the Chamber since 2003, and previously served as executive director of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, where his work received Model BID designation by the NYC Department of Small Business Services. He has been consultant to 18 BIDs, local development corporations and merchant associations throughout New York City since 1988. The NYC Council has cited Russo, and he was the subject of a feature cover story in The New York Times and national publications including City Journal.

Russo has deep roots in Downtown Brooklyn, serving as commercial revitalization consultant to Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden for the Downtown Brooklyn Council, and from 1985-93 as development director of the Atlantic Avenue LDC.


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