Jun. 9, 2023 By Bill Parry
While the New York Mets were mired in their longest losing streak in four years, there were some positive vibes at Citi Field for one day as the Queens Chamber of Commerce held its annual business expo at the Caesars Sportsbook at the Metro Grille on June 7.
Business, government and community leaders attended the all-day networking event featuring more than 140 exhibitors and dozens of panel discussions on the importance of international trade with leading experts across multiple industries in the borough and representatives from Korea, Germany, Ireland, Quebec and Trinidad and Tobago taking part in the discussions.
Mets legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden stopped by to greet participants on the exhibition floor and Queens Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Tom Grech welcomed the participants, saying that there has never been a better time to be in Queens, no matter which business they are a part of.
“Our rich diversity, along with the investments made to upgrade LaGuardia and JFK Airports, put Queens businesses in a unique position to access markets in every corner of the world,” Grech said. “We are the most diverse place on Earth, all of us working on perfecting the American dream. I get asked all the time why, with so many different people from so many different affiliations, nationalities and backgrounds, why for the most part do we all get along so well? The answer is easy, we’re too busy working.”
Commissioner Edward Mermelstein from the NYC Mayor’s Office of International Affairs spoke of the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic shutdown, particularly in workforce and tourism.
“There are so many things that we [New York City] are already number one at, we just need to let the world know that Queens is a major part of that,” Mermelsein said. “So we want to make sure that the world knows about the diversity of New York and that we’re back. We’re not coming back, we are back. We’re a little bit different than we were four or five years ago, but as always, we’re better.”
Jorge Islas Lopez, the consul general of Mexico, mentioned that Mexicans are the second-largest minority in the borough and, according to projections, will be the largest minority in America by 2040 or 2045.
“As the consul general of Mexico in New York, I am honored to be part of this global dialogue,” he said. “With a deep-rooted presence and rich diversity, the Mexican community in Queens contributes significantly to the economic dynamic of this borough and I am confident that our bilateral trade relations will continue to thrive, bringing mutual prosperity to both Mexico and Queens.”
Martine Hébert, the delegate general of Québec in New York, noted her province’s close ties to the borough.
“Queens’ diverse economy and global connections make it an ideal partner for Québec. This partnership is important especially at a time where we are both facing supply chain and energetic transition challenges,” Hébert said. “We have a strong interest in working together to share knowledge and develop cutting-edge solutions that will benefit both our economies. I applaud the Queens Chamber of Commerce for their commitment to fostering connections and advocating for the interests of their members. Together, we can continue to strengthen trade relations and drive economic growth in the ‘World’s Borough.’”
American Chamber of Commerce in Korea Director of Market Development Sue Ahn said this year marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-Korea alliance.
“As the largest and longest-established international business platform in Korea, AMCHAM consists of more than 800 member companies and affiliates that employ over 460,000 individuals across various sectors,” Ahn said. “As a strong supporter of the U.S.-Korea economic partnership, AMCHAM is accelerating the vision to position Korea as the regional headquarters of the Asia-Pacific region.”
Helena Nolan, the consul general of Ireland in New York, spoke of her nation’s long connection to the city.
“The enduring bonds between the US and Ireland, and with the city of New York in particular, remain as strong and significant as ever, founded on deep ancestral ties and reinforced by shared values and a commitment to excellence in global trade and investment,” Nolan said. “The U.S.-Ireland business relationship is continuing to reach record levels of growth on both sides of the Atlantic and is, increasingly, a two-way street. Chambers of Commerce play a key role in strengthening the ties that connect our two economies and business communities and I wish the expo and all our friends in Queens every success.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.