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PR- 425-06
December 5, 2006


Board Charged With Overseeing Job Growth and Development Inaugural Meeting on Friday, December 8, 2006

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced eight appointments to the newly created Chinatown/Lower East Side Empire Zone Administrative Board.  The Chinatown/Lower East Side Empire Zone was created in 2005 to stimulate private investment, business development and job creation through financial incentives and tax credits.  The first meeting of the newly appointed board will be on Friday, December 8, 2006.

The Chinatown/Lower East Side Empire Zone Administrative Board appointees are Local 23-25 UNITE HERE Manager May Chen; First VP and Senior Community Development Officer of Valley National Bank Michael Fields; Project Director of "Explore Chinatown" at NYC & Co Richard Kerekes; Professional Business College President Leon Lee; Press Secretary to the Mayor Stu Loeser; President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) Eric Ng; Lower East Side BID Executive Director Roberto Ragone; and President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York Inc. Justin Yu.  The Board will be overseen by the Department of Small Business Services, whose Commissioner Rob Walsh has delegated Carl Hum, head of the Mayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, to Chair the Board.  In addition, City Council members Alan Gerson and Rosie Mendez and Borough President Scott Stringer will serve in an advisory capacity to the Board.

"The Chinatown/Lower East Side Empire Zone will give the community the tools it needs to attract businesses and create jobs and this Board will guide the process," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Each one of these individuals has leadership skills and ties to the community.  I am confident that they will do a great job spearheading our efforts to bring more jobs and to the area."

"This new Empire Zone will put the Lower East Side and Chinatown on a level playing field for attracting jobs and new development," said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff.  "This is about growth and giving the community the ability to meet the challenges of the future."

"We appreciate the hard work and time that many people and organizations put into creating the Chinatown/Lower East Side Empire Zone," said Commissioner Walsh.  "We look forward to continuing to work with the community in growing existing businesses and attracting new businesses to the area."

"I'm excited to work with the Board and other community leaders to ensure that eligible Chinatown and Lower East Side businesses tap into the Empire Zone benefits that can help them grow," added Director Hum.

The Board is charged with setting economic and community development goals and establishing certification guidelines to attract targeted businesses to the zone.  It is scheduled to meet on a quarterly basis.

Below is more information on each of the appointees:

May Y. Chen is the Manager of Local 23-25 UNITE HERE, which represents thousands of immigrant garment workers in New York City.  She has previously worked with ILGWU Immigration Project and worked for the Education Department of Local 23-25 coordinating labor education programs.  She also serves as a trustee or board member for numerous organizations, including the Amalgamated Bank, UNITE HERE Health Center, Garment Industry Development Corporation (GIDC), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), New York Immigration Coalition, etc.

Michael A. Fields is the First Vice President and CRA Officer for Valley National Bank.  He joined Valley National Bank in 2002 as Vice President and Senior Community Development Officer.  He is responsible for guiding Valley National Bank's activities to finance affordable housing for low - and moderate - income persons, small businesses, and economic development.  Mr. Fields, whose professional experience and academic training is in regional planning and urban policy, also advises the bank on investment and service opportunities in the New Jersey and New York communities in which the bank operates.

Carl Hum is the Director of the Mayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses and has established 16 Industrial Business Zones throughout the City.  He was previously Chief of Staff and Special Counsel for Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), leading the Agency's day-to-day operations.  From 1997-2003, Mr. Hum was a New York County Assistant District Attorney.  Mr. Hum also served as a Financial Analyst with the New York City Council, studying the impact of the City's economic development strategy upon local communities.  He also worked at the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation as the Director of Economic Development where he spearheaded an employment program to link local residents with jobs in Red Hook's industrial business community. 

Richard Kerekes is Project Director of "Explore Chinatown" marketing campaign at NYC & Co.  As an experienced tourism marketing executive, Mr. Kerekes served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Gray Line New York Tours for many years before launching his own consulting business, specializing in the travel industry.  He has developed tourism sales, marketing and business development projects for the Little Italy (NYC) Merchants Association, Cooperstown (NY) Division of Tourism, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, CitySights NY, AirlinkNYC, Harlem Spirituals/NY Vision Tours, Meadowlands Xanadu Project for the Mills Corporation and a variety of domestic and international tour operators.

Leon Y. Lee is President of the Professional Business College (PBC) and sits on the Board of the Long Island Business Institute. Mr. Lee has a strong track record in the education and training of immigrants and minorities in Chinatown and Lower East Side.  PBC, formerly the Professional Business Institute, is a two-year charter college in Chinatown that trains new immigrants in office and business skills, including basic training in English as a second language.  PBC has assisted over 600 students per year, with a placement ratio of 90% for its graduates.  Under Mr. Lee's leadership, Professional Business Institute relocated to Chinatown in 1990 and was awarded the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) Award in 1997: In 2003 the Board of Regents approved it to grant Associate Degrees; and awarded a New York State Charter College. 

Stu Loeser, a resident of the Lower East Side, was appointed Press Secretary for Mayor Bloomberg in January 2006.  He manages external communications for the Mayor's Office and City Agencies while serving as the Mayor's main spokesperson.  Loeser previously served as spokesman for the Mayor's 2005 re-election campaign last year and as a senior aide to Charles E. Schumer, the United States Senator from New York.  Loeser worked in the Clinton Administration for five years as a legislative aide for the President's AmeriCorps National Service program and as director of external affairs for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. 

Eric Ng is the current President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), New York Chinese School and Chinatown Daycare Center.  After immigrating to the United States in 1970, Mr. Ng worked at Chemical Bank and Haskin & Sells CPA firm.  Mr. Ng is a former partner in Genie Fortune Cookies, Inc. in Chinatown.  In 1982, Mr. Ng started his Smart Distributor Company, a wholesale business mainly dealing in selling coffee and eggs. From 1983 to 1988, he also worked as a licensed Real Estate sales person.  Mr. Ng has been a community leader for more than 10 years. He has served as President of Hoy Sun Ning Yung Benevolent Association, Chinese Freemasons, Hip Sing Association and Eng Suey Sun Association. He was elected and inaugurated in March 2006 for his two year term as President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. He is also the current President of the World Eng Family Benevolent Association. 

Robert Ragone is Executive Director of the Lower East Side BID. Mr. Ragone has nearly twenty years' experience in government, non-profit and grassroots efforts.  As the Executive Director of the Lower East Side BID, Mr. Ragone evaluates and administers program services of business promotion, advocacy, security, sanitation and beautification.  Prior to joining the Lower East BID, Mr. Ragone was the Special Projects Coordinator for the Infrastructure/Human Services Division of the New York City Council where he coordinated and managed public hearings, legislative strategy, press conferences, media strategy and briefings in economic and small business development, waterfront development, Lower Manhattan redevelopment, solid waste management and environmental protection, and transportation issues.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

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