The 2012 International & Multicultural Business Expo, hosted by NACC, at the Marriott Hotel, downtown Brooklyn on June 14, was dubbed a smashing success by both exhibitors and attendees. The day commenced with a business breakfast, setting the platform for networking opportunities.
While the Expo has been over for some time now, its impact on those who experienced it, is so invaluable, that many businesses will reap dividends not bargained for. At the breakfast, business owners were treated not only to a sumptuous meal, but also benefited from organized and calculated business education on how to seize opportunities to expand their ventures, even how to take advantage of both federal and city resources that will enable growth and provide economic stability for many; these efforts will help to stimulate jobs for the minority communities. The truth be told, that’s the sole purpose for organizing the Expo. Brian Figeroux, Esq., Founder/Chairman/CEO and the mastermind of the event, seized this opportunity to promulgate the objective for organizing such an event: “The New American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), The African American International Chamber of Commerce and the NY Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, have decided to come together to work for the benefit of our people. The workers in New York City have a union to represent them, but, where is the union for small business people? Business people need a union also, and their union is us, the chambers of commerce. The small businesses need us to represent them. The largest employers in America are small businesses. If you want to impact unemployment in our communities, if you want to impact crime in our communities… start a small business.”
If that was not sufficient food for thought, Region 2 Director for the SBA, Jorge Silva-Puras, spread the table with a second course, detailing essential resources that are available to small businesses within New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. He noted that the federal government, through his organization, has committed to working with individuals who are determined to create small businesses. He added that as a result of funding approved for his administration, there are more than 2.7 million small businesses operating in his region alone. Loans ranging from $50,000 to $5.5 million are made available through the SBA capital access program and its commercial lending program. He stressed that small businesses need capital to grow and that’s where the SBA comes in to make that growth a reality. Silva-Puras said: “We are not a direct lending institution. What we actually do is, we guarantee to the banks your loan at a very high percentage. It can be as high as 85% of the loan. So if you want to get a loan of $100,000, and you go to the commercial bank but for whatever reason, you do not qualify under their terms…that’s a situation where SBA comes in and guarantees your loan up to 85%. That means that the bank is only risking 15%...obviously, it makes a big difference with the bank, particularly in this environment.”
Not to be outdoned by what Silva-Puras said, the City of New York representative, Gregory Mayers also took to the podium to show the city’s support for the establishment and sustainability of small businesses. He encouraged business owners to get certified with the city so they can benefit from the contracts and other programs the city has to offer small businesses. He noted that in 2011, some $563 million were awarded in contracts to MWBE certified businesses. He added that $40 billion have been allocated for the next five years with $15 billion going towards infrastructure alone, and small businesses should take advantage of this: “You have to get involved; you have to be a part of the process; you got to be engaged. And advocacy groups really let us know where the short falls are and some of the challenges that small businesses face and chambers such as the New American Chamber of Commerce play that significant role. I urge and encourage you to do that.” Referring to the contracts awarded last year he added: “The amount may be small to some but for those who received it, it was able to feed their families and put them back in business—that’s substantial. Can we do more, yes; are we willing to do more, yes; are we willing to partner with organizations like the NACC to do more? Absolutely.”
Following the breakfast, participants took advantage of exhibiting their businesses and products; they also attended the seminars that were organized by NACC to help educate and inform business owners on how to expose, expand and maintain their businesses in a growing competitive market. In the wink of an eye, the exhibition site became a competitive environment as hundreds poured in to participate in the various seminars and view the exhibits. A gamut of businesses were represented.
Many gave kudos to NACC for taking the initiative to organize the event, thus providing businesses with an opportunity to provide information to the public and other businesses about their products and business ventures. Many shared excitement and satisfaction for being a part of the day’s event. Here are some of the testimonials:
A representative of the New York City Small Business Development Center said: “My experience here today has been very good. There are a lot of vendors here who have a lot of information to share with the community. Interacting with businesses like the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the New American Chamber of Commerce, the McGraw Hill representatives and other business provide me the platform needed for what I do. I love it and I am enjoying the event.”
And an exciting participant appeared out of his skin to share his thoughts: “It is my first time visiting something like this and I am really enjoying what I am seeing. It’s amazing how the chamber of commerce put together a program where everybody can benefit. If I am to grade the event today I will definitely give close to a ten if not a ten, on a scale of one to ten.”
For more testimonials, photos and videos visit www.mynacc.org.
The Chamber is aiming at making this an annual event. Next year’s event is slated for Thursday,June 20, 2013 and with a new component, franchising. For information on the NACC Multicultural Business & Franchising Expo including early bird discounts, visit www.mynacc.org or call 718-722-9217 to schedule an appointment.