“Queens has arrived,” said Chamber president and CEO Thomas Grech. “It’s gone from being an outer borough to being considered a great destination.”
Attendees met with elected officials from Queens throughout the morning. Popular topics included the recent Amazon deal falling through, the opioid epidemic, and concerns over marijuana legalization.
Kumar Araja, an Arverne resident who owns an IT company, saw the occasion as a valuable opportunity to make sure the elected officials who represent him have his business interests in mind.
“We want to tell our elected officials how important it is to support small businesses because they contribute so much to their communities,” he said.
Thelma Young, who works for Century 21 in Fresh Meadows, has been to all three Queens Day in Albany events.
“One of my motives for coming up here is to let the politicians know what’s going on in Queens real estate,” said Young. “In Queens, we have a lot of ‘zombie houses,’ and we need to let the banks know that we need to do something about them.”
In the afternoon, attendees sat in on sessions of both the Assembly and State Senate.
“We in the Senate get to shape the direction in which we go,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo said from the floor of the legislature. “I’m grateful for that opportunity. I’d like to say thank you to the borough, it’s given me a great opportunity to be a public servant.”
In the evening, those who made the tip were treated to food and drinks from about 50 vendors from Queens.
“This was by far our most successful and largest Queens Day,” said Grech.
State legislators celebrate signature Queens diversity By Benjamin Fang
Above all else, Queens is known for its trademark diversity. The “World’s Borough” represents more than 190 countries and speaks 200 languages.
The State Legislature celebrated that diversity at Queens Day in Albany last week by passing a resolution marking the annual occasion.
On the floor of the State Senate, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky introduced the resolution by noting some of the highlights of the borough, including its airports, tourist destinations and institutions of higher education.
“In Queens, we can satisfy any culinary desire,” she said. “We have restaurants from all over the world.”
Queens is also a borough of small businesses, she said. According to Stavisky, two-thirds of Queens businesses employ between one and four people. Ninety percent of businesses employ 10 of fewer people.
“That’s why we as a conference try to reduce taxes, because we want businesses to stay,” she said. “We are a welcoming community for businesses.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Queens resident by birth and by choice, said the best thing about the borough is that it’s “filled with people that care more about others than they do themselves.”
Similarly, State Senator Jessica Ramos said the reason why Queens is able to enjoy its diversity is because leaders have actively worked to produce a welcoming community.
“It’s about really building community, talking to your neighbors and realizing that we are more the same than different,” she said. “We’re looking to thrive, no matter who we are.
“We all do better when we all do better,” Ramos added. “It’s more productive to uplift each other than to divide.”
In calling Queens “truly the best borough in the city,” State Senator Leroy Comrie said while people claim hip hop was started in the Bronx, “it was perfected in Queens.”
Responding in jest, Bronx State Senator Jamaal Bailey quoted the rapper KRS-One by saying that, “Bronx keeps creating it, and Queens keeps on faking it.”
But Bailey said he also owes a lot to Queens, because that’s where he met his wife.
“What Queens does not fake is its great diversity,” he said.
Later that evening, during a reception for the Chamber members and others who traveled to Albany for the event, Borough President Melinda Katz said while diversity is what makes Queens great, the borough also has the lowest unemployment in the city. It’s also growing in tourism everyday, and new businesses spring up all the time.
“It is amazing what we are doing for the future of our families,” she said.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s fine with being number two to a governor from Queens.
“I will continue to promote this amazing borough,” she said, “and all that you do to create jobs and opportunities for people here in the borough.”