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Jamaica Export Centre unveiled

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Business leaders and other groups got their first glimpse last Thursday of a newly completed state−of­−the−art commercial space that hopes to give a boost to southeast Queens importers and exporters.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce unveiled the Jamaica Export Centre at 157−11 Rockaway Blvd., blocks from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The two−story space, set to open in December, was created by the chamber to give start−up shipping industries a place to run their businesses efficiently, according to the group’s secretary, Ida Smith.

“We’ve had many projects, but nothing of the size of this project,” she said.

When fully completed, the 80,000−square foot, $2.5 million facility will feature three components that will be available to the multiple businesses operating there.

On the first floor, exporters will have access to an organized document center that will provide easy access to paperwork and records for each company. Down the hall from the document center will be a multi−purpose space designed for demonstrations and instructional seminars for employees.

It can also be used for community−based purposes, according to Smith.

The second floor will have a massive office space with 12 rooms, including a conference room. The offices will be used for the center’s “incubator” for the startups since all the companies that work in the building will have the same facilities and a secretary.

“The advantage is they can share space,” Smith said.

A rear parking lot that is still under construction will help business owners find space for their companies’ vehicles. Jule Grant, director of the non−profit Jamaica Neighborhood Center, said she was impressed with the building and hoped companies would take advantage of its offerings.

“A lot of times you don’t have space or clearance to be on JFK ground,” she said. “Here, you don’t have to hire a secretary. You don’t have to buy a new Xerox machine. It’s all there.”

Although the center was under construction for the last two years, the chamber’s president, Bob Richards, had been planning for its creation over the last decade, Smith said.

Elected officials who took part in the tour, including state Assembly members Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck), Audrey Pheffer (D−Rockaway Beach) and Vivian Cook (D−Jamaica), state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R−Glendale) and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D−St. Albans), praised Richards for establishing the center at a time when the future of the city’s economy looks bleak.

“We’ve seen the loss of jobs and this is the stopgap,” Maltese said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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