Community Partner Highlight: Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
1. How long has the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce been in the business of helping small businesses?
Since its establishment in 1918, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has consistently been aligned with the mission of helping Brooklyn businesses grow. We have a primary focus on the growth of small businesses.
We offer businesses support that spans from assisting with staffing, creation of a business plan, and financing, to providing healthcare insurance to small businesses across the borough.
2. What’s been your organization’s biggest hurdle in achieving its goals of aiding small businesses?
I would describe them more so as challenges. There are always challenges surrounding funding. For us, the most important part is making sure businesses have the necessary resources and tools at their disposal. Brooklyn is growing and we’re making sure we’re able to aid in the growth of the borough’s businesses.
3. Describe any major accomplishments for your organization over the last year.
In the past year, our membership has grown from about 800 to almost 1400 members.
We were also the recipient of three grants this year, one of which is a Rockefeller Foundation Grant on workforce development. We were asked by Rockefeller to put together work on small businesses and workforce development. The second was received from TD Bank to assist those areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This has allowed us to greatly increase our economic development throughout the borough. Lastly, we were recently awarded the Navigator State Grant from the New York State Department of Health to be Brooklyn’s representative on the new state exchanges as the new health care system comes into effect.
We organized Brooklyn Eats as a food and beverage fancy food show and restarted Brooklyn Designs, a home furnishings designs competition that brought together forty of Brooklyn’s most interesting furniture and furnishing designers. Both were very successful.
We started The Brooklyn Fund in partnership with NYBDC to help small businesses attain loans to help their businesses grow. We’ve been able to help Brooklyn’s small businesses across many industries and in many ways over the past year.
4. What are the key strategic goals for your organization over the next year?
In regards to the Brooklyn Fund, I want immigrant entrepreneurs to succeed. I’d like for minority and woman owned businesses to be taking advantage of this opportunity, as well as there to be investments into Brooklyn’s communities where they’re really needed. This is very important and I believe the Brooklyn Fund can make it happen.
A tremendous amount of effort is going to be needed in planning the Navigator Healthcare Grant. We’re currently putting together the team that will lead those efforts. We’re working to ensure that businesses and individuals across the borough have an understanding of the direction in which healthcare is moving.
We want to continue the progress of economic development across the borough. Essentially, all of our efforts connect to helping small businesses grow.
5. What should a small business entrepreneur know about your organization?
They should know that we are here to help them. We’re here to help them identify and understand what opportunities exist for them and to help them network and grow their business.
6. Where can they get more information about The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce?
Visit our Facebook page
Follow us on Twitter @BrooklynChamber
7. Describe your partnership with NYBDC and why it is instrumental to your organization achieving its mission.
It’s clear that our partnership with NYBDC and the creation of The Brooklyn Fund is going to greatly assist small businesses, particularly immigrant entrepreneurs in accessing capital. Many of these businesses would not have access to capital without this fund. It is instrumental as these businesses continue to grow and make Brooklyn their home that we are able to offer them these opportunities. Our partnership is about increasing opportunities for small businesses and giving them the means and the funding to move forward.