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Small Business, Big Dreams

The Financial panel.
The Financial panel.
June 23, 2011

The Daily News recognizes the concerns of today’s small business owners with its column ‘Your Money.’ 

This section of the newspaper profiles successful entrepreneurs and interviews financial experts about the ups and downs of starting and running a business.

Since BMCC offers business courses and programs for students of all ages and career levels, it was the perfect CUNY college to host the Daily News Multicultural Small Business Conference, which was held on June 21st in Theatre I.

The theatre was packed with a crowd of budding entrepreneurs as well as BMCC business students who wanted to hear professional advice from industry experts.

Larry Oliver, Daily News Sales Development Director, praised BMCC in his welcoming.

“Thank you BMCC for staging and hosting this great conference for the fifth year,” he said, adding that small businesses today are a “driving force” in today’s economy.

A crucial role

Jay Hershenson, CUNY’s Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations, then took the stage to thank BMCC President Antonio Pérez for leading BMCC “with great distinction” and playing a crucial role in the CUNY educational school system.

Hershenson mentioned that Won Ton Foods, Inc., recently hired BMCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development to create a training program for their employees, which focused on communication and customer service.

“They were very pleased with the program,” he said, joking that Won Ton Inc., created fortune cookies that said, “You will find health and happiness at BMCC.”

Panel discussion

The event’s panelists were divided into three groups, eager to talk about starting or maintaining a business in today’s economy and upholding a diverse workforce.

The audience also learned about financial incentives available for minority business owners.

“The panelists you will see today will provide information that is essential for the future growth of today’s economy and small businesses,” said Oliver to the audience.

Phyllis Furman, Business Writer for the Daily News moderated the first panel discussion which focused on finance.

Robert Dominguez, Daily News Business Editor, moderated the second panel on Technology, and Lisa Skriloff, President of Multicultural Marketing Resources, moderated the third panel on Business Operations.

Helpful Web sites

Panelist Steve Cohen, Deputy Commissioner, Division for Small Business, Empire State Development Corporation, spoke highly about a government Web site for new business owners.

“If you want to open up a business, this site has a laundry lists of steps you’ll need to know,” he said. “For information about government procurement, check out New York First.

According to Cohen, a multicultural workforce is critical to New York’s economy. “Forty percent of New York businesses are minority owned; and 30 percent are women-owned.”

Panelist Richard Lam, Vice President, Senior Business Development Officer, Sovereign Bank, said when applying for a loan, get to know the business specialist.

“And ask a lot of questions,” he said. “Today, it’s still tough to get a loan, but it’s becoming easier, especially if the bank is aggressively expanding, like Sovereign Bank. Some banks also have start-up loans.”

Energy efficiency

Panelist Marianne Castillo, Community Outreach Coordinator, Con Edison Small Business Energy, Efficiency Program, highlighted a new, money-saving program.

“Con Edison’s GreenTeam reaches out to small businesses and helps them lower their electric bills up to 20 percent,” she said.

According to Castillo, a Con Edison surveys small business sites and examines ways energy consumption can be reduced.

“The business then may change their fixtures, lighting, heating and more,” she said. “It’s a simple program and so far, people are pleased with what we’ve done.”

Other panelists included: Lynda Ireland, President, NY & NJ Minority, Supplier Development Council; Patti Bloom, President and Founder, Bloom Resource Group, and more.

The Multicultural Small Business Conference was co-sponsored by BMCC, CUNY, Con Edison, Time Warner Business Class, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Goldman Sachs.


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