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Jobs bill could boost boro economy: Maloney

The economy may be weak, but there are still employment and business opportunities, according to a town hall forum on jobs and the economy hosted Saturday by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria).

Maloney, who chairs the House’s Joint Economic Committee, said the U.S. Senate is currently debating a $170 billion measure that will renew expired tax breaks for businesses.

“The president understands that our No. 1 promise has to be jobs,” Maloney told the crowd at the Cretan’s Association in Astoria.

Maloney said a targeted tax credit, which gives a $1,000 credit for every new job a business creates and cuts the payroll tax on new hires, will be a boon.

“I believe it will help move us forward,” she said.

Man-Li Kuo Lin, a business development specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Queens office, said the agency has a host of programs to help entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

Lin said the SBA guarantees business loans and that the economic stimulus package has helped reduce risks for banks.

She said banks are looking for qualified businesses to give loans to.

“The small local banks, they are willing to give money,” she said.

Lin said loans through the SBA can be had for as low as a 10 percent down payment at a 25-year fixed rate. The SBA also works with lenders in giving microloans and offers business training and education.

“If you can’t find a good job, why not start your own business? Make your dream come true,” Lin said. In the current economy, Lin said that option has become popular with college students who have had a tough time finding employment.

Angie Kamath, deputy commissioner of the city Small Business Services Worldforce Development Division, urged attendees at the forum to take advantage of the city’s four Workforce 1 career centers in Queens.

The centers had a 50 percent increase over last year in terms of how many people it put to work, Kamath said.

Two of the centers are in Jamaica — one for those looking for airport and transportation jobs and the other as a general career center. Two others are in Long Island City: one dedicated to health care jobs and the other a general center.

Kamath said the centers trained 10,000 people in occupation training last year and noted that such training leads to higher wages after completion of the program.

She said the centers also have daily job fairs.

Denise Richardson of the General Contractors Association said there are also opportunities for general contractors looking for work on city projects.

Richardson said the MTA’s Web site has information on a small business mentoring program that teaches contractors how to perform work for the MTA.

She said contractors looking for work are encouraged to fill out a contractor qualification questionnaire through the city School Construction Authority. If a contractor meets the criteria, they will be added to a list of qualified contractors and are eligible to perform work for the agency.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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