Guest Op-Ed: Growing business in Brooklyn

Over the past 12 months, the Brooklyn Chamber has experienced tremendous growth. We recently surpassed 1,300 members – growing by 400 members since September 2012 – and we are well on our way to 1,500 by the end of the year.

Although attracting new members (and retaining current ones) is a major part of what we do, the Brooklyn Chamber’s growth is a testament to the borough’s ability to attract new businesses and help established ones prosper. As a boroughwide economic development organization, it is our job to make Brooklyn the place to do business.

In addition to growing our outreach, the Brooklyn Chamber has joined forces with Business Improvement Districts throughout the borough and has helped organize merchant groups in others such as Sheepshead Bay, a place affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Our economic development team has also been in Sheepshead Bay, Red Hook, Dyker Heights and commercial corridors such as Nostrand Avenue and Fourth Avenue in an effort to help people promote their businesses and become active with social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Brooklyn Eats returned in June as a food and beverage manufacturers trade show – and it was a resounding success! Over 100 vendors and 2,000 people turned out for the daylong event.

Last month, we hosted the 13th annual Building Brooklyn Awards, where we honored 12 real estate projects in Brooklyn — along with Erminia Rivera and Anthony Crowell – that have helped make a difference to the lives of millions of New Yorkers. These two events were further proof – as if we needed any – Brooklyn is the place to be!

One of the Chamber’s biggest achievements is having the Brooklyn Alliance, the not-for-profit arm of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, selected to administer the New York State Navigator Health Program for Kings County. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that we had been chosen by the state’s Department of Health to develop, implement and operate the “In-Person Assistor/Navigator Program.”

For those not aware of what it is, the IPA/Navigator Program was created in response to upcoming changes under the Affordable Care Act and will provide access, information and enrollment for health insurance services to Brooklyn residents and businesses beginning later this year.

Statistics show that Brooklyn has among the highest uninsured population in the state — with more than 55,000 children and 387,000 adults ages 19-64 without insurance. We hope to change that. In its role as a Navigator, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will expand its services even more by providing direct support to small businesses, and individuals seeking information and access to affordable health insurance options.

The Alliance was one of 50 organizations selected to administer the Navigator Health program throughout New York State. This is a major initiative in New York State history and we are thrilled to have been selected.

We are committed to lending a helping hand to Brooklyn businesses — and countless Brooklyn residents – who are currently without affordable options for coverage. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health for allowing us to expand our services to the Brooklyn business community and its residents.

Of course, we can’t do it alone. We joined forces with our friends at the Brooklyn Public Library, who will play an integral role as a community partner on this initiative.

Satellite offices will be located at the Sunset Park, Marcy, Bushwick, Greenpoint, East Flatbush, Mapleton, Flatbush and Kings Highway branches, where there are significant access barriers to insurance for small businesses and their employees as well as low and middle income working parents with children, immigrants, and those considered higher risk and currently without affordable options for coverage.

Look out for us in your neighborhood. We are there to help you! Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Photo courtesy of Carlo Scissura.

Carlo A. Scissura is the president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. To join the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, call 718-875-1000 or visit  

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