The South Asian Chamber of Commerce held a networking and marketing event on March 1st at Royal Albert’s Palace in Edison, N.J. Featured guest speakers at the event included Edison Mayor Tom Lankey, Edison Council President Ajay Patil. Chairperson of Edison chamber of commerce Art Cisseli, Deputy Comptroller of Nassau County and Mayor Derek Armstead of Linden
“We’re dedicated to ensuring that Edison is open to business for everybody,” He thanked the SACC members and the business owners who came . Edison is thriving in all respects, is affordable and safest community with its diversity has become a premier destination within NJ for business development. “Our economic strategies are the most desirable destination for corporate and commercial investors”, said the dynamic Mayor Tom Lankey, who was re-elected to his second term this past November.
Ajay Patil, Edison Council President, emphasized that local politicians would be available to business owners who were having difficulty navigating bureaucratic channels. “The energetic South Asian Chamber of Commerce is taking shape right here,” said Patil. “We would like to know your challenges, your difficulties. We are there for you. We are always there.”
Sam Khan, the Chairperson of South Asian Community outreach, had a message of unity.
“The South Asian community is a thriving community. There is a need for the South Asian community to unite and create a voice that can be heard in government,” said Khan. “We need a platform that can bring the businesses of South Asians descent together, and use the resources within the community and resources available all over the state, to help people grow their businesses.”
The Deputy Comptroller for Minority Affairs of New York’s Nassau County, Dilip Chauhan, was also in attendance.“Elected officials only see financial power and voting power. At this event, they can see the power, strength, and unity of the South Asian community,” said Chauhan. “The minority community is also lacking in education about the opportunities they can receive from the government, but through this platform, they can learn.”
Board Trusty Seema Jagtiani, of Farmers Insurance – Amogh Agency, is confident that the organization will help South Asian businesswomen succeed. “I seek to bring South Asian businesswomen to a level of equality,” said Jagtiani. “I seek to bring forward their knowledge, and their talents by giving them a platform where they’re equally balanced. At this organization, we believe very strongly in teamwork.”
Board member Col. Virendra Tavathia believes that the organization will help bring names and faces to businesses.“The goal of this organization is to create a networking community that involves all of the countries of South Asia. Businesses not only can meet but also help & teach each other,” said Tavathia, “Nobody reads the Yellow Pages these days.”
Dr. Nimisha Shukla, who is on the Board and a trusty for the Chamber, highlighted that the organization is already looking to expand.“We want this organization for the tri-state area,” said Dr. Shukla, who is a pediatrician in Edison. “Right now we are focusing on New Jersey and New York, and expanding to Philadelphia.”Dr. Shukla also included that the organization has an Executive Board that’s 50% female, and strongly promotes inclusiveness for women and young business owners. She threw her support behind the South Asian Chamber of Commerce after seeing needless exclusivity and imbalances in other similar organizations.“If you have proven yourself, you should have a seat at the table,” Dr. Shukla said. “Why should you have to sit on the floor?”
Board member Dr. Mohammad Zubair, a pulmonologist, believes that the organization will help immigrants.“Historically minorities have had a difficult time learning town laws, especially immigrants,” said Dr. Zubair. “I think this platform will provide guidance to connect people to the government. It gets very easy to get lost if you don’t know how to navigate. We will make sure we are powerful enough to protect the rights of immigrant business people to become successful Americans.”
Board Member Dr. Sanjay Gupta of Interventional pain Specialist & director of Atlantic Pain Institute another board member, hopes that the organization will facilitate a more casual and relaxed atmosphere for networking. “The main benefit people should gain from this event is to learn what is happening in the local business community by meeting people face to face in a more informal environment,” said Dr. Gupta. “It’s like a temple or mosque for businesses.”
Lion Mahesh Chitnis PMJF, Area Leader, remarked “Over the years South Asian American community worked hard and built their businesses and families. It is time for us to come together and support our local communities. Our focus should not only be on businesses but also helping the needy in the society.
As speeches were being made by the Executive Board and its guests, questions of professionalism were raised by the audience. The bar had to be closed for the chatting crowd and were asked to take their seats, and act professionally. Although the stage was big but became too small to accommodate the amount of people invited. The event was originally supposed to be held at another restaurant, but moved venues to accommodate the large audience and on request of Mr. Albert the owner of Albert Palace. However, a formal announcement of the venue change was not made and caused some confusion among guests.
Magandeep Rehal, who works in both the construction and real estate development fields, had a political reason for attending the event.
“In today’s challenging political environment, especially as a Sikh–tying a turban and running a business–the SACC helps you and guides you,” said Rehal. Harpreet Manchanda, who works in IT consulting, said the networking event helped him build connections.“This is a very good platform to build connectivity”.
The CEO of Professional Transcription Company, E. R. Kazmi, used the networking event as an opportunity to connect with a few of his business friends. He plans to attend other South Asian Chamber of Commerce events in the future.
Amul Patel, Vice President of Sathya Sai Corporation in Iselin, N.J., attended the event to get involved with state government contracts. Sathya Sai Corporation is an MWBE certified business in the state.
Guests were also repeatedly asked to become members of the Chamber, and surprised to be asked to pay at the entrance. There were no assigned tables for the press or the dignitaries, and The India Observer was the only paper present.
“I’m frequently asked how did the Asian community become successful and establish themselves so quickly? Every time I say persistence and the fact that each of you knew, as immigrants, your economic growth was a matter of survival. Many in this room have been fortunate enough to achieve our goals. Now I strongly encourage each of you to bring your sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to networking forums such as this so we can show that each of you were not only the trailblazers, but you also established a legacy so influential that the next generation is a strong united community that keeps pushing each other forward in every field.” – said Samip Joshi, 28 year old Councilman of Edison
Sunil Pendse with 25 years of food industry experience, owns “Shezan” , an upscale fine dine restaurant centrally located in the heart of Edison, NJ. with a renowned chef Wasim Sohail specializing in freshly prepared exotic mughalai dishes served in minutes while you sit and enjoy the music. Shezan caters parties not just in its banquet hall but also in and outside the state, on question, ” what made you leave you guests at your busy restaurant, Mr. Pendse, & come to this event? with the spark in his eyes, excitedly he said, ” Oh, we are personally committed to our guests, but this event was closer to my heart too, so my wife Sonali Pendse sacrificed this fun filled evening and stayed back to care for the customers”. I came to support the organizers, I love Mayor Tom Lankey his team, and council members, city of Edison, its administration, its police and fire Dept. said Mr. Pendse,” They are like a big family”, I always supported and want to continue supporting them. Mayor Tom Lankey was the chief guest at this event of South Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Nazish Agha, Esq.,the senior partner of the firm Agha & Agha, LLP was not present when asked for a comment, she praised the work of SACC and expreseed her appreciation of the strong bond of the South Asian Community. Agha & Agha, LLP specializes in Corporate, Real-estate, Bankruptcy, Immigration, General litigation, and Family Law. Located at 7 Lincoln Highway in Edison. As a welcome courtesy Agha & Agha is offering a free consultation to the members of South Asian Chamber of Commerce for a limited time.
Representatives from an estimated 230 businesses managed to make it to the event, despite the stormy conditions outside. In all it was informative and an evening well spent. The evening included a dinner buffet and an open bar
Photos by Arshad. Editing & additional reporting by Adam Rizvi