FLUSHING, QUEENS – Small business owners who speak a different language may find it difficult to navigate the legal system for their company, but with new funding, officials are hoping that will change by helping them get over language barriers to thrive in one Queens neighborhood.

Tom Grech is the president and CEO of the Queen’s Chamber of Commerce.

“Even though we speak 18 or 19 different languages, we’re not accountants,” Grech said. “We’re not lawyers.”

The Small Business Development Center at Queens College’s Kissena Hall has provided services to more than 600 small businesses in Queens County, but the missing link is legal assistance in different languages, so the Chamber of Commerce is adding the newly introduced Small Business Legal Desk.  

“I said, ‘If there was a way for us to be able to get some funding and bring onboard attorneys, CPAs, and others that have expertise in human resources – hiring and firing situations – it’d go a long way,’” Grech added.

Congresswoman Grace Meng allocated $1 million dollars for the program, so the service is only available for businesses in her district.

She said the program will especially be beneficial for the owners who don’t have a lawyer on retainer, which could be necessary in urgent situations. 

The cost will be nothing for the business owner.

Officials also plan to keep the program community-focused and hire local professionals.

Languages that will be available include Bengali, Russian, Spanish, and Mandarin, which is what Suzan King, the manager of the program, speaks.

“I had my own business, so I know the struggle,” King said.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for the right professionals to provide the services, so no small businesses have benefitted from the program yet, but they hope to help at least 300 businesses and make an impact by the end of the year.