Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. (center) and Maria Torres-Springer (2nd from left) are joined by (from left) Consul Felipe Carino, Ledy Almadin of the PhilAm Chamber of Commerce; and Gianlucca Galletto, Director of International Affairs, for a photo opportunity after a briefing by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.  (Photo by Wendell Gaa)

Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. supported the promotion of Fil-Am small businesses and increased access to technology and innovation during a meeting with Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, a Fil-Am and President of the New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Director Gianlucca Galleto and Sara Appleton of EDC’s International Affairs, Ledy Almadin of the Phil-Am Chamber of Commerce New York, and Consul Felipe Carino also joined the meeting.

Torres-Springer is the first Fil-Am to be appointed as Head of EDC of New York which serves as the economic arm of NYC and is responsible for promoting economic sectors of interest to the city and supporting innovation and increasing economic activity.

She previously served as the Commissioner of the Small Business Unit of NYC.

De Leon said that the Consulate General is working with and through the PhilAm Chambers and is supportive of the growth of Fil-Am small businesses.

He believes that Filipinos can derive immense benefits in navigating and accessing services that support small- and medium-sized businesses in NYC.

Torres-Springer stated that Mayor Bill de Blasio administration’s thrust is to promote inclusive economic growth in NYC and that EDC is tasked with a target of 200,000 affordable housing for NYC residents.

The EDC is supportive of technological innovation, applied sciences, engineering, and real estate citing Cornell Tech as an example of combining and harnessing technology, academic and real estate sectors for a single purpose.

Torres-Springer also explained that economic recovery is happening, but is not for everyone.

She cited the importance of catalyzing growth, promoting access to opportunity and inclusivity.

EDC’s Industry Transformation teams, on strategic investment and economic research, are working together to achieve their objectives to spur synergies between the innovation sectors and EDC’s recent projects, citing Applied Science NYC, NYC Incubator, Coney Island, and Tax Credits and Bonds as examples, she said.

De Leon, on his part, suggested that NYC and the Consulate General can enter into cooperation in the academic sector where younger generation Fil-Ams involved in IT innovation can access training and educational opportunities in the city.

He opines that a “mentorship program,” guided by NYC academic institutions, can help institutionalize learning and innovation in the Filipino community.

He further said that potential cooperation between NYC and the Philippines may include exchange of experiences and experts in public-private partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure projects and government real estate redevelopment (e.g., the New York HighLine project).

The Consulate General continues to engage local and elected officials in states/cities under its jurisdiction as part of its program to promote closer bilateral exchanges, community relations, and helping Filcom members, particularly, entrepreneurs and younger generation Fil-Ams, access available local and state resources and services.

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