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Battle for the Boros


About a year ago, the banks started calling, which was unusual.

Jack Friedman was used to hearing from life insurance salesmen and payroll companies and such. As executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, he often fields calls from business-service providers looking to host networking events. “But we'd be lucky if we had one bank that wanted to do an event with us once a year,” he recalled.

Yet in the past 12 months, Mr. Friedman has been contacted by 10 different banks, all interested in hosting seminars and forums in the hopes of gaining access to the hundreds of local businesses that belong to the chamber.

“We're definitely being courted more,” he said. “Banks are trying to use us to get to their target market: our members.”

No longer content to duke it out for space and customers in Manhattan, banks have been expanding into the outer boroughs in recent years. That's largely because the boroughs have the highest concentration of immigrant entrepreneurs, who've been responsible for much of the city's economic growth.

“Banks do their studies, and they see where the money is,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corp. “This is a large, untapped market. Plus, the cost of space here is a lot cheaper.”

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