From the NY Post:
Two years after it opened as an “incubator” for small businesses, the $2.5 million Jamaica Export Centre — built with mostly taxpayer cash — is virtually deserted.
The dusty reception desk, which was supposed to serve up to eight businesses, is unoccupied. Downstairs, a meeting room is empty, and a sign out front says it is available for baby showers and birthday parties.
The 8,000-square-foot building near Kennedy Airport opened with great fanfare in 2010. Its mission was to help freight-forwarding and export companies owned by minorities and women. The businesses would get subsidized rent and shared services, such as a receptionist and meeting room.
Among the pols who showed up for the ribbon cutting were Rep. Gregory Meeks, state Assemblywoman Michele Titus and City Councilman Leroy Comrie, Democrats who each secured cash for the project.
About $1.7 million in taxpayer funds went into buying an old tire shop on Rockaway Boulevard and replacing it with the gleaming new two-story building. The state Dormitory Authority kicked in another $450,000 to buy a ramshackle house behind the property, which was torn down to create an ample parking lot.
The pols ponied up the money to the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the project, even though its president, Robert Richards, readily admitted that the group had never run a business incubator.
Today, just two businesses and a nonprofit have rented space at the center, and have done so only in the last five months. Richards refused to name the firms, but said they were not freight forwarders.