Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Southeast Queens Economic Development Comes to the Cross Roads in St. Albans

In recent years we are seeing a spurt of economic development in the St. Albans, area of Southeast Queens.  But will local residents efforts to upscale their communities be overshadowed, and even overwhelmed, by corporate developments in the Jamaica Avenue commercial district?  Conversely, on the intersection of Farmers and Linden Blvds, we are even seeing some national chains moving in along with some thriving or promising Black businesses.

National chain stores Dunkin Donuts, 7-Eleven, and a large Dollar Store, have opened up within the last few years. Also a couple of very promising West Indian restaurants have opened up.  We are also seeing higher end real estate companies and there are also 4 black owned beauty supply stores/boutiques and spas sprouting up in the area.  

There is also a flourish of tax offices, accountants, and business offices.  There is also a nice Black owned computer supply store called Creative International.  Mainstay catering and reception hall Thomasina's is, we see, doing major renovations.

It is nice to see the business sections in the residential areas of Southeast Queens are progressively taking the initiative to upscale and upgrade themselves.  Major developers are going to revamp the major commercial hub sector of Jamaica Ave.  Nevertheless, it is also encouraging that people in the community of St. Albans are proactively investing in their own community.

There are even some nonprofits endeavoring to start a business incubator called Seed Capital Cafe.  According to the Seed Capital Cafe's website the organization looks to help area residents by addressing the following questions:

1. If your business is home-based or virtual, can you benefit from having access to an affordable main-street location to meet with clients, conduct workshops, or showcase your products or artwork?

2. Will you need assistance with incorporating/ forming an LLC, reviewing or drafting contracts, or any other legal matter for your business?

3. Would you agree that the time is now for us to innovate within our community?

Another effort in the works also is the Southeast Queens Federal Credit Union.  It is another endeavor by area residents being undertaken to help "assist in bringing financial literacy, independence, and strength to our community."  This effort could be a great asset to the community if it caught on.

Also St. Albans is the home of great cultural institutions like the legendary Black Spectrum Theatre.  The area even has an emerging underground jazz club looking to "bring back work class jazz back to the community" called the Jackson Room. Jackson Room will be celebrating its 5 year anniversary.  That is a milestone for any business especially a jazz club in our area.

But will St. Albans become a type of model of neighborhood bootstrapping in Southeast Queens, or will it be overwhelmed with gentrification?  We don't want the area to suffer the same challenges as the other two cultural epicenters in NYC: Harlem and Central Brooklyn.

Kamau Austin, Publisher
Southeast Queen Scoop
Well I wouldn't underestimate the business resolve and aplomb of St. Albans residents. Remember back in the mid 1970s and early 80s one of the largest and fastest growing black businesses in the world was Wallace & Wallace Oil, and related companies doing almost 160 million dollars a year in income.

I will make the case that St. Albans and also residential areas in Southeast Queens needs a business technology incubator with perhaps a collaboration with York College to help area business persons become more tech savvy and digital marketing proficient.

In upcoming posts on the Southeast Queens Scoop I will explore developing a tech business hub in the Greater/Jamaica Southeast Queens area.  I will also look to launch a Southeast Queens Business Expo of area resident businesses.  We have look for proactive progressive solutions to empower people in our community. By Kamau Austin, Publisher

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