Commerce Director Harold T. Epps will continue his ongoing tour of the City’s many commercial corridors on Friday, November 18 when he visits Chinatown and checks out some of their businesses. To find out more about what it’s like to do businesses in Chinatown, we talked to Samuel Chueh from the Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services.
What is your role within the Department of Commerce and how do you work with the Chinatown neighborhood?
I am a Business Services Manager, and in my role I act as a liaison between small business and the resources Commerce has to offer. I have reached out to over 100 small businesses in Chinatown to introduce our department’s services and learn what challenges immigrant-owned businesses face. Additionally, to build trust and relationships with this community, we also attend and support their community events and festivals, including: Chinese New Year Celebration, Night Market, China and Taiwan’s National Days, and the Moon Festival.
What are some of the specific services you offer to businesses?
I have held several bilingual workshops in Chinatown – not only to introduce Commerce’s services and programs, but also to address business-related issues. I bring other government officials and our Business Technical Assistance Providers to this corridor so that small businesses have better access to government services and business resources.
Are there other resources available to businesses in Chinatown, such as a CDC or BID?
The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) is located on Vine Street. The Chinese Benevolent Association is another key organization, which has been connected with businesses in Chinatown for over 50 years. I work closely with both organizations.
What can a new business looking to open up shop in this area expect when they call you? How are you helping these interested businesses join this community?
I usually start by introducing all incentives and grants which new businesses might be eligible for. Then, I review the client’s business plan and see what they may need assistance with, especially technical assistance and licensing/permitting. I also have periodic meetings with community leaders and take advantage of those opportunities to introduce new businesses to the community.
Why Chinatown? Why should businesses choose this area, and what unique attributes does this district have to offer customers?
Geographically, Chinatown has wonderful location to bring foot traffic in. It is located downtown between City Hall and the National Constitutional Center. In addition, it is just one block away from the Convention Center. It is the most energetic ethnic corridor in Philadelphia with strong Asian Heritage. The Chinatown Arch, donated by our sister city Tianjin, is a popular tourist stop. Recently, we have seen more and more young immigrant entrepreneurs starting businesses in Chinatown and creating a significant number of jobs. They are changing the image of the traditional ethnic commercial areas by implementing modern design, fusing cultures, and applying technology. It is a corridor with good location, energy, and new ideas!