Brooklyn business trends on show at annual Chamber meeting

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which completed an extensive economic report on the borough just a month before its 2016 Annual Membership Meeting and Trade Show, took the opportunity afforded by the occasion to preview plans it is putting together for building business in the borough.

At the event, held at Gargiulo’s, 2911 West 15th Street, on Wednesday, October 5, Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Carlo Scissura told members about what is coming down the pike in the near future, beginning with the Chamber’s five-year strategic plan.

“We are going to be looking to create an economic development hub for the borough that will also serve as the Chamber’s headquarters,” Scissura told this paper, stressing that this is a “long-term plan.

“It would house a tourism center, a Brooklyn-made store, an incubator for new members and startups, and a small business center,” he added.

In addition, Scissura said, the Chamber announced that it would soon be marking its 100th anniversary, coming up in 2018.

But, that was just the beginning. Members also learned some of the key points in the Chamber’s Economic Assessment of the Brooklyn Economy – 2016 Update, dated September 5.

Chief among these is that “Job numbers are up,” said Scissura, stressing that the “highest number of new jobs are coming” in the information sector.

Indeed, according to the report, the borough’s job growth, “In absolute numbers… is the largest increase in over 15 years… with more than 30,000 new private sector jobs in 2015,” a number that, said the Chamber, “surpassed the rest of the city and state by significant margins,” helping to bring unemployment in the borough down to “pre Great Recession levels.

“On a monthly basis, unemployment in May 2016 was the lowest it has been in 15 years,” according to the report, which also noted that, “In 2015, Brooklyn experienced its largest increase in wages since 2004,” with “two straight years of wage growth.”

That said, Scissura emphasized that inequity is still a factor. “There’s a lot of excitement about the borough,” he went on. “It’s hot and there’s a lot going on but there’s still a large number of Brooklynites living in poverty. Income inequality is still a big issue in Brooklyn.” Those are issues, Scissura stressed, that the Chamber will be tackling. “We’ll be announcing some stuff on that soon,” he said.

Over 500 people were in attendance at the event, which was keynoted by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who discussed his administration’s investments within the borough, including initiatives at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, according to Scissura.

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