Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Carl Hum Watches Out for Brooklyn Businesses

The Brooklyn business community has one of their own to champion commerce through Carl Hum, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce CEO and president. Did he have visions of thriving shopping corridors and industrial parks as a boy playing in Sunset Park? Maybe not immediately but his career path was decidedly an interest in economic development by the time he was a young man.

A BA from Wesleyan University, majoring in Social Studies and a JD from Fordham University School of Law, gave Hum the credentials to serve as a financial analyst for New York City Council where he studied the impact of the city’s economic development strategy on local communities. He switched to the nonprofit sector to work at South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation as the director of Economic Development. Perhaps a six-year stint with the New York County District Attorney’s Office prosecuting felony cases and member of the Domestic Violence Unit had him know the business sector was his mission. Hum joined the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, January 2005, as director where sixteen industrial business zones were created during his term and administered New York City’s eleven empire zones. In two years he developed industry-specific tax credits and skillfully offered State tax credits to spur business and job development.

When he learned of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president vacancy, he had to respond to the opportunity to grow and advocate for business in Brooklyn. What did it matter that the first economic bumps occurred when he came on board, September 2007. One year and a half as president and CEO, Hum speaks determinedly for support of small businesses because they are the major employers in Brooklyn as is the case throughout America. “The challenge for this period is making sure entrepreneurs are confident in the market to start their own business,” explains Hum. “Even as we go through downsizing and restructuring, we have to look at it as growth for the future.”

Growth for the future involves evaluating how business has been conducted and “uncovering opportunities in the downturn.” Similar to other business executives Hum asks that business consider “what is the investment proposition and the social value [of any venture.]” It sounds as if sober business analysis forever replaces frenzied investment in the latest consumer whim.

As small business champion, Hum is pleased to re-launch the Brooklyn Labor Market Review, the fall of 2008. The review studies the last recession during 2001 – 2003 wherein Brooklyn’s diverse ethnic populations and business is explored as well as the fact that of the 186,000 jobs lost in New York City only 5,000 were from Brooklyn. “The next Brooklyn Labor Market Review will reveal how thing shake out in this current recession,” quips Hum. “An immediate initiative,” says Hum, “is ensuring that the business community isn’t overtaxed or burdened by the city’s budgetary measures. Brooklyn needs to be business-friendly.”

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