Economic Headwinds Provide Business Opportunities in Queens
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There are opportunities for business growth in Queens as more residents move out of Manhattan over high rents in an economy battered by high inflation and its toll on cost-of-living expenses.
Long Island City and Jamaica are among the areas where new apartment buildings are being erected.
“There are approximately over 10,000 new apartment units coming to Downtown (Jamaica) in the next 24 to 36 months,” said Justin Rodgers, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
The Queens native said there will be a need for new restaurants, bars and nightlife.
“So now, the focus really is to get mom and pop restaurants on side streets where rents could range anywhere between $30 per square foot to maybe $60 per square foot,” he said.
Rodgers’ pitch to business owners is a line from the 1989 film “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” With greater density in the most diverse borough of New York City, he believes independently owned restaurants in residential neighborhoods would fare better than on Jamaica Avenue, where rents have soared to up to $250 per square foot.
“Just before the pandemic, we had (a) very difficult time trying to attract our mom and pop restaurants to Downtown Jamaica, specifically, but you know, financing has now become an issue with interest rates increasing and it looks like the Fed is going to definitely increase rates once again.”
The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has opened a new co-working space on Parsons Boulevard for hybrid workers in both the private and public sector.
“We are finding that a lot of businesses in the healthcare industry we’re starting to attract to our co-working space, environmental firms we are attracting to our co-working space, as well as public affairs type of firms,” said Rodgers. “Most of these firms are either sole proprietors or have maybe one or two employees, but I would definitely say, specifically, healthcare is definitely somewhere where people definitely need to look into.”
The JFK Revitalization Project is also providing opportunities for small and mid-size businesses in which minority and women-owned enterprises (MWBE) are prioritized for state contracts.
“That’s a great opportunity for small businesses in Queens to try to figure out how to get involved with that project,” said Rodgers, who co-chairs the project’s business development committee. “It’s $18 billion worth of work and it’s not only on the construction side, you have professional services and vendors as well.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office predicts the JFK Revitalization Project will create more than 10,000 jobs.
Rodgers told WCBS 880 he will help any small business owner who would like to apply. You can contact him through the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation at (718) 291-0282.
See more on where to spot business opportunities in Queens on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.