Testimony

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Stret Vendor Modernization Act

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October 24, 2016

Dear members of the Council, My name is Sante Antonelli, Director of Business Services for
the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

Thank you for the opportunity to present. The mission of the QEDC is to create and retain jobs
that build neighborhoods and also to promote the great borough of Queens. We are the

borough's oogo-to" resource for anyone seeking business advice and counseling - especially
those from low income communities, immigrants, minorities and women. We help them

through the entrepreneurship process with a variety of no cost and low cost programs and
services.

In the last year we have:

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Assisted over 1,500 individuals to start more than 250 businesses,

o Created over 500 new jobs through our business literacy and counseling programs;
o Helped over 100 handymen and women become fully licensed contractors with
NYC's Dept. of Consumer Affairs through training offered in English, Chinese and
Spanish;

o Worked with clients to get certified as a Minority and Women Owned Business
Enterprise, opening doors of opportunity for these businesses

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Continued to grow the number of food businesses via our Entrepreneur Space

Kitchen Incubator

o Opened a made in Queens retail store to help local manufactures comply with local
laws, create brand awareness

&

sales opportunities.

But I am here today to support this proposed legislation to increase vendor opportunities. We
have worked with many individuals where street vending is the only way to commence a
legitimate business. This is especially true for those with limited language and economic
abilities. For low income individuals with not many job opportunities, starting out as a street
vendor is a viable entrepreneurial altemative to earning a living.
We should note that street vending has in some instances been a launch pad for small oneperson endeavors to grow and even become big businesses.

A few blocks from us on Orchard Street Moscot Eyewear was founded in a pushcart. And
further up Broadway is ABC Carpet - founded by Samuel Weinreb who sold his rugs also from
a pushcart.

These are just two examples that scratch the surface of immigrant street vendors that have
become American success stories -and there are many more.

We have worked closely with the Street Vendor Project. In2014 r.ve piloted an education
program in collaboration with The Street Vendor Project called the Street Vendor Academy.
The goal was simple, to help street vendors to become better business people. Our goal was to
encourage them to operate a lega1 business, w'ork i,vithin the iaw, identify supply and demand
constraints, pay their taxes and utilize technology to help them climb up the economic ladder.
We began with a South East Asian group of Bhutanese, Nepalese and Tibetan vendors. The
response was excellent. We found a tremendous desire in the street vendor community to do
the right thing.

This legislation will create more opportunities and with support from the public and non-profit
world - we can help an entire sector that - even though may currently be disenfranchised - has
the drive and work ethic to improve their situation and in-turn contribute to the improvement of
the micro economy of our city.
We hope the Council will move on this legislation. If so, please be assured the QEDC
become a valued partner with you in helping the vendor community.
Thank you.

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