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Flushing quickest in job growth

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (second from r.) speaks about his economic report on Flushing while local elected officials listen. Photo courtesy DiNapoli's office
TimesLedger Newspapers

One of the state’s top elected officials visited Flushing last week to extol the economic health of the neighborhood, which has fared exceptionally well in the economic downturn.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli visited Flushing to release a new report called “An Economic Snapshot of Flushing, Queens” that suggests that small business, enterprising immigrants and access to public transit are some of the keys to the area’s success.

Those factors have combined to create impressive numbers in the neighborhood, the report suggests. Every year since 2005, the number of jobs in Flushing has increased; in 2010, Flushing added jobs at a rate of 3.1 percent, much faster than the rest of the borough and city; and between 2000 and 2009, the number of businesses in Flushing grew a whopping 37.6 percent, far faster than the citywide rate of 5.7 percent, the report shows.

“It’s really an incredible success story in the face of the economic time we’re going through as far as increasing employment and continued real estate growth,” DiNapoli said when the study was released Sept. 22 during an event at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, at 135-20 39th Ave. “When you have this continued story of economic growth here in Flushing, despite the hard economic times, we really think others should look to Flushing as an example.”

DiNapoli highlighted the fact that small businesses are the key driver of Flushing’s strong economy as 90 percent of firms there employ fewer than 10 workers each, and more than 76 percent employ fewer than five. He said the continuous influx of new immigrants to the neighborhood is one of the other main factors that contributes to the economy’s enduring strength.

“Ensuring that we support the small business industry is key to strengthening the economy in Flushing,” DiNapoli said. “The other key message of this report ... is the impact of immigration on this community. It’s very clear that the immigrant experience, that sense of trying to carve out a slice of the American Dream, is key to the growth of the economy in Flushing.”

Borough President Helen Marshall agreed that immigrants and small businesses are what drive Flushing, but she said the government could do more to assist them.

“We have people from all over the world here, and most of them who have recently arrived here are small business owners, and small businesses employ more people than any other industry,” she said. “But I think sometimes we’re too hard on them and that they’re over-regulated. If we have a large community made up of small businesses, it’s very important that we pay attention to it.”

City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) took an additional lesson from the report, saying that it points to a dire need for more funding for transportation and other infrastructure projects in downtown Flushing.

“The comptroller gave us a really encouraging report card of how well we’re doing, like students in school. We’re doing much better than other neighborhoods,” Koo said. “We should be happy but we shouldn’t be ecstatic. We need infrastructure — improvements to the Long Island Rail Road and 7 [train] stations, and schools are overcrowded.”

The full report can be read at osc.state.ny.us/osdc/rpt102012.pdf.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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