Speaking With New Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Hoan


The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is starting the new year with a new President. Carlo Scissura, who had been the Chamber President and CEO since 2012, stepped down late last year after being named the New York Building Congress President. In his place has come Andrew Hoan.

Hoan originally joined the Chamber back in 2012 as the Director of Capital and Development. Like Scissura, he also previously worked in the Office of former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, overseeing capital funding, according to his biography.

Newly Appointed Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Hoan

“This chamber is the largest Chamber in New York State. We are not your typical chamber of commerce. We do all of your typical chamber of commerce stuff, but we’re also a full-service economic development corporation so we do direct services to business. From start-up loans to recruitment to health insurance to tourism to promotion and marketing. We help businesses from beginning to growth”, said Hoan about the Chamber going into this year.

KCP Did the following interview with Hoan.

KCP: Going into the 2017 year there are several controversial projects in the pipeline, particularly regarding housing and transportation that have many Brooklyn residents concerned. Specifically the Bedford Union Armory, in Crown Heights has been targeted for redevelopment by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The  NYCEDC plans to change the vacant building into a recreation center and mixed-income rentals with 24 private condominiums within the building’s south side.

The issue of affordable housing has come under controversy as elected officials and advocates look to fight displacement and allow members of the community to occupy the majority of the new units. As previously reported, many elected officials were very outspoken about the plan some even openly trying to “kill the deal” in hopes of getting a fully affordable housing project. What is the chamber’s view on this?

Hoan: “The idea of building a community facility and housing and affordable housing for that neighborhood is a good thing. I understand the community has concerns and every community should win a public asset and that’s okay. What I believe is best is that we can only have a good outcome when we build more housing. Whether it’s market rate or affordable housing, we can only have good outcomes. I think we need housing period and that’s the bottom line.”

Another issue that has Brooklyn residents concerned this year is the rezoning of Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens. The rezoning was initially proposed by Community Board 9 back in 2014 when they sent a letter to the Department of City Planning in order to initiate a zoning study. Since then the proposal has been fought by a very vocal neighborhood activist group, Movement to Protect the People, according to dnainfo.com. What’s your take on rezoning that strip?

“I think the rezoning there are really leading to some positive outcomes. The focus on neighborhoods that can and need additional housing, retail, commercial, and everything in between is the right step. I know that we have two sort of areas we are looking in brooklyn, one is the Gowanus area and the other is Empire Boulevard.

We need to build Brooklyn for the next century. You need to think, where are we going to build? Empire is worth taking a look at. It’s important that whatever happens there it helps the neighborhood. We begin a community process now to come up with ideas that will make sure residents are taken care of, those who are seeking affordable housing are taken care of, that there’s jobs. The idea of rezoning Empire has just started and I think it’s worth having the conversation about it.”

Another major project coming to Brooklyn in the coming years is the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, which is planned as an above ground tram system from Sunset Park , Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens. The project is currently in the planning stages still as the city looks to make a final decision on the best route for the new transportation system. Some residents in the Red Hook Houses feel that the new transportation system would threaten their residential living situation as businesses and development will lead to redevelopment of the area. What is your views on the BQX?

“I just want to be clear about the threat to the Red Hook Houses, the NYCHA facility. This [the BQX] is perfect it really helps solve the issue of, ‘okay I need to get to school in 5 minutes, I’m a kid in high school, I need to get to my job in the Navy Yard’. Which before might take you an hour and a half, now you cut down that time significantly. It makes a huge difference in people’s lives. It’s a great project. It’s an economic development engine, an equity engine. It will make Brooklyn a better place to live and to work.”

Hoan also noted that this year the Chamber is launching the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a non-profit loan fund program as part of a federal grant from the Department of Treasury. Hoan hopes to use the program to help immigrants and minorities, specifically, in order to allow them to start businesses and grow.

The Chamber was founded in 1918 to promote economic development across the borough and serve as an advocate for its member businesses. Its mission is to promote a robust and healthy business environment in Brooklyn.