New president has background in economics, urban planning
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Hoan is an avid rock climber. And as the new president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (BCC), he is putting that skill to good use.
Hoan, who took the helm of the BCC on Dec. 6 after the departure of former President and CEO Carlo Scissura, is calmly and steadily moving the business organization forward.
Scissura left the BCC in December to become president and CEO of the New York Building Congress. He worked at the BCC for four years.
Founded in 1918, the BCC is the largest chamber of commerce in New York state, according to Hoan, who said one of the keys to its long-term success is the fact that it constantly strives to meet the needs of its more than 2,100-member businesses. “We listen to them,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle in a recent interview.
The BCC, which is headquartered at 335 Adams St. in Downtown Brooklyn, offers assistance to businesses large and small, promotes the borough nationally and internationally as a great place to do business and serves as a voice for the business community with elected officials. The BCC also works with individual business owners on everything from promoting an online presence to finding funding sources that will help a company expand.
Hoan heads a staff of 40 people dedicated to working closely with BCC members and promoting Brooklyn as a hot place to own a business.
Hoan has worked at the BCC for six years. Prior to his promotion to the top spot, he served as the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief of staff, working alongside Scissura.
But the offices of the BCC are not the first place where Hoan has crossed paths with his friend Scissura. “Carlo and I both worked for Marty Markowitz,” he said, referring to the former Brooklyn borough president.
Hoan, who has an economics degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University, directed capital funding for Markowitz when Markowitz was borough president. During that same time, Scissura was Markowitz’s chief counsel and then moved up to become his chief of staff. Another former Borough Hall co-worker, Carlos Menchaca, is now the city councilmember representing Sunset Park and Red Hook.
When he took the job as president and CEO of the BCC, Hoan was quick to acknowledge the contributions Scissura made to the organization.
"During the last four years, Carlo spearheaded a renaissance at the chamber that resulted in a tremendous growth in membership, the creation of numerous innovative programs and services and the success of countless businesses throughout Brooklyn,” Hoan said in a gracious statement issued in December.
Denise Arbesu, chairperson of the board at the BCC, said Hoan is a natural fit for the job.
"Along with Carlo, Andrew has been a driving force behind the resurgence of the organization. I can think of no candidate with more experience or expertise, and the executive committee and our board were absolutely confident that the ideal next president was already right here within our ranks,” she said in a statement.
One of the first major events to take place during the Hoan era at the BCC was a Feb. 6 forum at One MetroTech Center featuring nearly all of Brooklyn’s congressional representatives. Hoan said the event was organized because he felt it was important for the business community to hear directly from elected officials about the issues.
Hoan and his staff are currently busy planning Brooklyn Night. Each year, the organization brings scores of food vendors, crafts persons and other merchants up to the New York State Capitol and throws a party to promote the wide variety of businesses in the borough.
Lawmakers from all over New York state flock to the party to eat Nathan’s hot dogs, sip wine from Brooklyn wineries and enjoy delicious Li-Lac Chocolates.
Hoan joked that this year Brooklyn Night, to be held in March, “will be more gluttonous than it was last year!”
To date, more than 50 food and craft vendors have signed up for the event.
Brooklyn Night always takes place during a two-day trip to Albany that dozens of BCC members take. The group meets with state Senate and assemblymembers representing Brooklyn districts to discuss the BCC’s legislative agenda.
The Chamber of Commerce also hosts a Brooklyn Night in Washington, D.C. each year.
Members of Congress from all over the country attended last year’s event and told Hoan they were excited to learn all about Brooklyn.
Among Hoan’s new initiatives is to expand the Brooklyn Night concept to include a third location.
To that end, he plans to host a Brooklyn Night at City Hall this year. “It makes sense. We hold Brooklyn Night in Albany and in Washington. Why not do it in our own city? We have talked about it before. We decided to go ahead with it,” he told the Eagle.
Tentative plans call for the New York City version of Brooklyn Night to be held in September.
Hoan was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His great-grandfather, Daniel Hoan (1881-1961), served as the mayor of Milwaukee for 30 years. Hearing about his great-grandfather’s lengthy career in public service fostered his own interest in politics, he said.
After graduating from the University of Milwaukee, Hoan headed east to New York City. He settled in Brooklyn, moving into Prospect Heights.
His love of rock climbing changed his life. He met his wife Karina at Brooklyn Boulders.
Dr. Karina Hoan is a surgeon at The Mount Sinai Hospital.
In addition to his work at the BCC, Hoan has helped to raise corporate support for Volunteers of America, the city’s largest provider of homeless services. He has also worked with the New York Legal Assistance Group as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer.
He has served on the boards of several organizations, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and is currently a member of the boards of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger and Dancewave, Inc.