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Gov. Hochul keynotes Brooklyn Chamber Winter Gala

December 16, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered the keynote speech at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting and Winter Gala at El Caribe Country Club in Mill Basin on Tuesday, and cheered the borough’s efforts in coming out of the pandemic.

Addressing 2.6 million Brooklynites, 62,000 small business owners, some of NYC’s top economic development advocates, elected officials and voters, she discussed her administration’s efforts to support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic and revive New York’s economy.

“Small businesses are vital to our local economies, and supporting small businesses owners in Brooklyn who got hit hard by the pandemic is critical to our economic recovery efforts,” Hochul said after being introduced with a recording of the song “New York, New York.”

“That’s why I’ve taken steps to provide more pandemic relief to small businesses, make it easier for small business owners to access government resources, and continue to create opportunities for minority or women-owned businesses to ensure an equitable recovery,” Hochul said.

“New York is back, starting with Brooklyn. This business community was knocked down, but you never, ever gave up,” she added, to great applause. She talked about her mother starring a flower shop in Buffalo at the same time businesses there were closing. “That’s the type of family I come from,” she said.

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Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President & CEO. Eagle photo by Delilah Johnson

Speaking about the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, she said, “You were the ones who never gave up. Why Brooklyn needs to succeed in coming out of this pandemic is because the rest of the state is watching you.”

Among those in attendance were several prominent elected officials from across Kings County, including U.S. Congressmember Jerry Nadler; NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; State Sens. Zellnor Myrie, Andrew Gounardes and Roxanne Persaud; Assemblymembers Phara Souffrant Forrest, Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, Peter Abbate and Steven Cymbrowitz; NYC Councilmembers Farah Louis and Kalman Yeger; and incoming NYC Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse.

Sandy the Seagull, one of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ mascots. Eagle photo by Delilah Johnson

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers introduced Hochul and spoke about key issues impacting Brooklyn’s economic recovery, including one-third of local businesses owing back rent, widespread labor shortages, supply chain chokepoints, and rising inflation.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Peers has been a forceful voice chronicling the devastation of the small business community, and a developer of innovative and impactful programs that helped countless struggling businesses survive. 

“Brooklyn’s vital small businesses including many minority and immigrant-owned companies have suffered enormous hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while too many were forced to permanently close, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has provided critical opportunities supporting thousands of businesses toward recovery.”

Princess Jolie Charles,VP of Youth Outreach, The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Democratic Club. Eagle photo by Delilah Johnson

 Peers continued, “Through key initiatives like the Social Justice Fund, an effort made possible through a ten-year, $50 million commitment by the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, the NYC Small Business Resource Network, and the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, the Chamber has been central to nearly every effort to revive Brooklyn’s economy, and we look forward to continuing the mission into 2022 and beyond.”

The evening began with a trade show and cocktail party, featuring a cross section of Brooklyn home team industries, businesses and organizations, including Addus Homecare, Acme Design, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Brooklyn Eagle, Con Edison, DIME Community Bank, Empire State Bank, Fiserv, Glenwood Mason Supply, Lilac Chocolates, Lishawn’s Cupcakes, Mercedes Benz, Nine Muses Travel, Northfield Bank, NU Hotel, Penda Aiken, Inc., RegenLab USA, Stepinto City, St. Francis College, and Up ’n Go.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair Ana Oliveira greeted attendees. “It’s been an extremely difficult almost two years for businesses across the borough, and through it all, the Chamber has been a constant voice fighting to ensure their needs are supported,” she said.

Following Chairperson Oliveira, the Chamber announced its incoming class of new members to the Board of Directors, including Amy Griffith, group director of Public Affairs for The Coca-Cola Company; Tyquana Henderson–Rivers, founder of Connective Strategies; Mia Shernoff, global head of marketing of First Data; Tiffany Joy Merchison, founder of TJM & Co. Media Boutique; Dr. Patricia Ramsey, president of Medgar Evers College; and Eugene Shvartsman, VP, head of government affairs at Cross River Bank.

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