Jessica WalkerPresident & CEOManhattan Chamber of Commerce
How did you get involved with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce?My background is in public policy analysis and advocacy. For many years I was an advocate for older New Yorkers, the long-term residents who imbued our city with so much character and richness and now deserve to enjoy their golden years. After the Great Recession I went to work for an organization representing the large employers in the city and which was doing everything possible to help our economy bounce back. That’s where I gained exposure to the Chambers and saw how critical their work is to support entrepreneurship and help small businesses. When my predecessor retired, I knew this was the job I wanted.
What do you like best about your borough?I’m a huge history buff so I love living among history every day and walking where some of the most famous (and infamous) men and women did. There’s a story on every block in Manhattan.
What is your favorite NYC sports team?I love our local baseball teams, especially the Yankees, but I can’t deny that watching the Mets play while having an indoor brunch at one of the stadium clubs is phenomenal.
Why is it important for the Chambers of Commerce across the City to align and partner?New York has always been a magnet for innovators and entrepreneurs. While doing business here offers some significant advantages, the Chambers provide solutions to overcome the biggest challenges facing businesses here. We’re focused on advancing the economic vitality of our city by building a strong and thriving climate for the broad business community, including small businesses and startups, mid-market companies, and large corporations. In the wake of COVID this is particularly important.
Did you ever spend any time in Brooklyn, and if so, what did you enjoy most about it?I now live in Harlem but when I first moved to New York I lived with a friend in the Bronx for a year and then moved to Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. I lived there for five years and loved it. I walked everywhere. This was before the Barclays Center was completed. The neighborhood has more bars and restaurants now than when I lived there but it was always just a great place with great people.