Jamaica business center toasted at St. John’s U.

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"We have to keep working on jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs," he said.

Bloomberg and other elected officials gathered in the moot courtroom of the St. John's Law School Tuesday morning to congratulate the Jamaica Business Resource Center on its work helping minority and women both start and run their own companies.

"This organization has the ability to turn people's dreams into reality," said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans). "They are leveling the playing field so hope and opportunity is available for all."

But many leaders, including Bloomberg, said there are more challenges to tackle.

"We need to have the kinds of jobs our people and the people coming and living in our city are doing," he said. "We have to keep creating jobs and creating the jobs that our people can do now."

Jamaica Business Resource Center was founded in 1994 with funding secured by then U.S. Rep. Floyd Flake and was authorized by former President Bill Clinton to be a national model for a "one-stop capital shop."

The site has been helping new business owners overcome set up, technical, financial, training and other problems. Over the past 10 years the program has helped more than 6,000 businesses and secured more than $150 million in financing and procurement opportunities for small, minority or women-owned businesses, said Joseph Murphy, Jamaica Business Resource Center board member.

"The Jamaica Business Resource Center has proved to be an important catalyst for developing minority and women-owned businesses," he said.

And as the businesses get on their feet and start employing more people, the city has been the better for it, Bloomberg said.

"If our city is going to be great, we have to get the best products and services and we have to open the gates to everyone," he said. "It's in everybody's interest to do that."

But there is more to be done. Minority and women-owned businesses still only apply for a small percentage of the city contracts they should be vying for, said Borough President Helen Marshall.

"We do not have enough minority entrepreneurs sitting at my table looking for contracts," she said.

The City Council, at the insistence of Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton), set aside $500,000 for the Jamaica Business Resource Center to allow it to help more potential business owners, Comrie said. The Council will also be looking to the center to help develop a strategy on how to fight unemployment, particularly among minorities, he said.

"We have to put together a very comprehensive plan very quickly," Comrie said. "We will be coming back to you to come up with that plan."

And Sanders is sure the center is a well-qualified partner, he said.

"The business of New York City is still business, and Jamaica Business Resource Center is all about business," Sanders said. "Our best years are yet to come."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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