Newsday article featuring long island african american chamber of commerce
BY CHRISTINE GIORDANO
Special to Newsday
he Long Island African American
Chamber of Commerce is working
to increase the number of minority-
owned businesses in the region, follow-
ing a goal set by Gov. Andrew M.
Cuomo to include minorities in 20 per-
cent of state contracts, says president
Phil Andrews. Founded two years ago,
the chamber connects members with
business and government leaders, helps
owners obtain minority certification,
and gives “the wider community an op-
portunity to do business with a signifi-
cant segment of the market,” he says.
Meetings are publicized on Facebook;
the next one is April 3.
Andrews, 50, began his career work-
ing by day for the New York City De-
partment of Corrections and spending
nights helping to build the Haircut Hut
chain. The company grew to 10 stores
before he retired; he now runs P.A. Pub-
lic Relations Co.
How does the chamber help cultivate
We develop a relationship with the
agencies and ask the procurement peo-
ple to talk to us and tell us how we can
do business with them.
How does certifying a minority-owned
It makes them able to get contracts,
but it also certifies that they’re in busi-
ness and gets their paperwork in order.
And decreases the likelihood that they
won’t fulfill the contract.
How are you trying to keep minorities
from moving off Long Island?
We see ourselves in the business of
helping to make Long Island sustainable
for the African-American community.
Business growth, job creation, private-sec-
tor opportunities and government con-
tracting opportunities will slow down the
rate of African-Americans relocating to
other parts of the country.
What else do you want to do?
We want to be that vehicle for peo-
ple who may not be in business, to cre-
ate future businesses. We’re encourag-
ing other ethnic groups to be part of
the chamber. And we’re going to be
working with the Hofstra Small Busi-
ness Development Center on training
in business skills like bookkeeping,
marketing. Everyone wants to be in
business, but you’ve got to learn the
language of business first.
What’s the key to staying in business
and creating something viable here?
I gave out scholarships, spoke at
schools, had Kwanzaa events and art ex-
hibits at my stores. So one of the keys is
staying involved in your community.
How did you build your business while
working full time?
I tried to have family or people that I
really trusted as key managers. One of
my best managers we ever had was my
niece. Family [treats] the business like
it’s theirs, and that’s hard to find.
You also hired former inmates?
When you open a business, you help
somebody feed their family. That’s one
of the greatest things you can do.
NAME: Phil Andrews, president,
Long Island African American Cham-
ber of Commerce Inc. in Hempstead
WHAT IT DOES: Provides business
development opportunities, network-
ing and help with minority business
2013 BUDGET: $75,000
Phil Andrews says one of the keys is to
stay involved in your community.
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