Close to 3,000 members of the Staten Island business community converged on the Hilton Garden Inn on April 16 to take part in the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s 21st annual Business Conference.
The free event, which offered a variety of seminars, networking sessions, a 125-booth vendor room and several keynote addresses, opened a dialogue amongst community leaders and business owners about economic development in our borough.
“The SIEDC Business Conference is a unique event that brings together professionals from small businesses to large organizations,” said Barrington Burke-Green of Visiting Nurse Association and SIEDC Business Conference Ambassador. “There’s no place a local professional can go to learn this much from so many, all in one day.”
A keynote breakfast featured a presentation and update on the Staten Island to Bayonne Aerial Gondola. The project, which intends to connect Staten Island to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, is being touted as a solution for moving thousands of people per hour, reduce wait times for transit and finally link the borough to Manhattan by rail.
Joe Ferrara, principal of BFC Partners, which is developing Empire Outlets, held a press conference on the status of his project, which has a grand opening slated for May 15. And the SIEDC announced plans to continue their incubator program which supports Women Entrepreneurs of Staten Island. A new Veteran and Immigrant Owned Business Incubator Program will also be launched this year and the group also announced plans to launch a borough-wide Restaurant Guide in 2020.
The SIEDC also handed out its annual achievement awards recognizing individuals and the small businesses that employ them.
Twenty Staten Islanders under the age of 40 who are actively involved in local business were recognized with the “20 under 40” award; the “Top 31 Small Business” award was given to 31 of the borough’s top small businesses.
A keynote lunch discussed “What’s Missing” from the borough during which a panel of experts talked about new initiatives and projects that have brought success and prosperity to other boroughs and how they can be implemented here on Staten Island.
The event concluded with a cocktail reception that allowed attendees to network with the borough’s top corporate business leaders, small business owners and emerging entrepreneurs.
The conference, which was presented by Investors Bank, with the host sponsor, Staten Island University Hospital, also featured sponsorship from Corporate Sponsors including Capital One, Chase, Con Edison, Conduent, National Grid, Northfield Bank, New York Building Congress, Pratt Industries, Richmond County Savings Bank, Sandy Hook Pilots Association, Staten Island Visiting Nurse Association, Kimco, The Angiuli Group, and Island Auto Group.
Extensive support for the Conference youth education initiative comes from ADCO Electric, Island Borough President James S. Oddo, New York City Councilman Steven Matteo, New York City Councilman Joseph Borelli, Puddin’ Kids First, and United Activities Unlimited. The Staten Island Advance is the media partner of the SIEDC Business Conference.
In the hotel’s main ballroom, 125 vendor tables were set up allowing businesses both small and large to display advertising materials, hand out swag and network with conference attendees.