Carlo Scissura, the former chief of staff to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who was once seen as Markowitz’s potential successor, started a new job last week as president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. In an interview with City & State, he discusses his goals, the Brooklyn Nets and how to replace Markowitz.
A. It’s very exciting! Lot of packing of boxes, settling in, talking to staff, and making calls across Brooklyn. It’s been a really fun week.
Q. Does it feel like back to school?
A. I feel like I’ve gone from junior high school to high school. These are big shoes now.
Q. What goals do you hope to accomplish this year?
A. A couple of things. We’re going to look at the internal structure of the organization and change a few things. On an external basis, goal number one is letting Brooklyn know the chamber is alive and it is a really great borough-wide institution. Businesses should come to us for assistance. In terms of some programmatic things, I will be creating a borough-wide calendar that will include street fairs, block parties, civic meetings, really one stop shop for Brooklyn. We’ll be available for everyone.
Q. How will you help businesses grow and create jobs?
A. When a business joins the chamber, they ask, ‘What do I get out of it?’ And we will help them do communications, get stories out there, network, meet Brooklynites interested in your services, and help you get discounts with other businesses. We’re going to be the ombudsman for our businesses. If a developer is building in Brooklyn, come to us, we’ll help you navigate the waters, help get support with a liquor license or work with a government industry.
Q. Which industries are adding the most jobs?
A. The hospitality sector is growing, tourism is exciting, and we’re going to help put this together. It’s not just about getting tourists to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s about getting them spend money in our shops, restaurants, and small businesses. Education and health care are growing, and artisanal Brooklyn, from soda to pickles, is growing too. Our chamber will restart a past program called Brooklyn Eats, which will be a trade show that will happen in Williamsburg in the spring. It will be an opportunity for Brooklyn manufacturers to showcase their stuff and highlight what they’re doing. We also have a program called Brooklyn Goes Global, which lets people in other countries know what products we have here, and that will create job growth too.
Q. Are you going to work with the Brooklyn Nets?
A. It’s the greatest thing happening in Brooklyn right now. In less than two months, the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn. We’re thinking about partnerships with the Nets and the Barclays Arena. One of the first things out of my mouth when I travel to tourism trade shows is we have the Nets and we have the Barclays Arena. Let’s do some conventions there. It’s time Brooklyn become convention central for smaller conventions. The Barclays Arena should become a beacon for conventions across America.
Q. How do you replace Marty Markowitz when he leaves office?
A. There is only one Marty Markowitz in the world. He currently is the best borough president Brooklyn has ever had. It will take 20 of us to replace him. He will always be the borough president.
Q. What’s he going to do next?
A. He can do whatever he wants to do. Any organization in the city would be lucky to have him.
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