On July 7, New York State politician Lester Chang who represents New Yorker’s in the State Assembly’s 49th District, held a business conference in Brooklyn with the goal of providing a platform for local business leaders to communicate and share the latest industry trends and best practices. He also took the opportunity to advocate for the City’s Asian population.
The conference attracted an array of local business leaders including Jim Zhen, Vice President at TD Bank Brooklyn, and Raymond Ng, general manager of Majorie Real Estate Group, among others.
In conversation with Vision Times, Chang said that “without business there will be no work for other people. So businesses are very important to me,” adding that the current business environment in the state is over regulated and taxed, and levies too many fines on struggling businesses. Chang hopes to streamline the regulatory environment to help small businesses thrive.
According to Designer Revival owner Tiffany Keriakos, conducting business in the Big Apple has never been more difficult. She recently told the NY Post, “It’s, like, just impossible to survive.”
She said that her business is struggling due to brazen shoplifters, burglary, taxes and regulations as well as what she calls “pay me to go away” lawsuits over supposed violations of disabled-access laws.
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“If it’s not the brazen criminals and brutal taxes, it’s the near-impossible-to-navigate red tape or the predatory lawyers,” the NY Post reported.
Keriakos is currently being sued by a blind man who alleges her website fails to accommodate his disability despite the odds of him being a genuine customer being astronomical.
It is a worrying trend. In 2022 in New York State, 2,560 website-accessibility suits were filed in New York federal courts.
“You got too much regulation on them. If I can streamline that, I hope they can survive,” Chang said.
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Opportunities for the Asian population
In addition to discussing how to make things easier for local businesses, Chang also voiced his support for the City’s Chinese and Asian populations.
According to Chang, around 15 percent of New York City residents are either Chinese or Asian, representing approximately one million people, of which roughly 800,000 are Chinese. He believes the City can take practical steps to create more opportunities for this sizable portion of the population.
He told Vision Times that he hopes the City will hold a work or job fair for government positions, with an application that is not only offered in English but also in Chinese, noting that the voter registration is offered in Chinese.
“I want diversity,” in the local government, he said, adding that the City has to give the Asian population “fair equity” and provide opportunities for Chinese people “to work in the government.”
“Their English may not be good, so what?” he said, insisting that they can still positively contribute.
During the pandemic, New York City’s Chinese population faced what the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University called a “double pandemic.” This “double pandemic” included anti-Asian hate in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a report, the center surveyed 423 New Yorkers of Chinese descent and found that about a third of them experienced an incident of harassment, assault, or bias in 2020, “such as being called a racial slur or physically intimidated or assaulted.”
“The vast majority of New Yorkers of Chinese descent worried about their own or their family’s safety from a hate crime or harassment, even those who had not experienced harassment or discrimination directly,” the report found.
Without referencing the study, Chang said, “That’s our community,” adding that the City can do more to support the Chinese and Asian Communities.
“Right now it’s not fair,” he said.