Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 13 January 2012 00:00
With great enthusiasm and a fervent desire to unite Great Neck and push for revitalized business districts, new Great Neck Chamber of Commerce President Hooshang Nematzadeh told the Great Neck Record that he accepted the position believing that he has “an obligation to the Great Neck community.” A leader in Great Neck’s Iranian community, Mr. Nematzadeh said that it is time that members of this Iranian-Jewish community “share some of the responsibilities” of the greater community.
Both a longtime Great Neck resident and a member of the local business community, Mr. Nematzadeh is looking to increase membership in the Chamber of Commerce in order to build up a stronger Chamber and stronger business districts throughout the peninsula. He spoke of working with the Great Neck Plaza’ mayor’s commission to stimulate business in the downtown area, and as well working to stimulate business in the Old Village. “The Chamber should act as a unifying entity for all of Great Neck,” he told the Record, adding that it is the “primary function” of the Chamber to promote business.
Mr. Nematzadeh has long served with the Chamber of Commerce and is the immediate past first vice president. As president, his priorities are impressive. He will strive to see that the Chamber “focuses on improving the business climate in Great Neck,” as well as focusing on “improving conditions under which we can increase our membership.” And, he added, “If we do our job, we will increase membership.” Along the lines of membership, Mr. Nematzadeh would also like to see a new program to once again provide benefits for members.
Most important, the new Chamber president is set to try to create a system, a new way to fill empty stores. “It’s terrible … with the current demographics … so many empty stores,” he said. It is his intention to work with local officials and with Nassau County. Mr. Nematzadeh explained that “local authorities cannot reduce taxes because they have very little to tax … but they can provide incentive zoning.” By incentive zoning he refers to offering specific allowances for buildings if the landlord would pledge to keep the commercial portion of the building at a lower rent, “at least for 10 to 15 years.”
He also alluded to the suggestion that “Nassau County can directly reduce taxes on portions of buildings that are vacant … but only if the landlord passes the savings on to the stores.” By doing this for at least two, three or four years, according to Mr. Nematzadeh, this would be a great help “in extraordinary times … the cycle would work back.” He emphasized that the county “must share the concerns with us … empty stores are a drawback for Nassau County as well.”
And tying up all of this is the idea to initiate a “Shop in Great Neck” campaign. “We have to … this is unacceptable,” he said.
Houshang Nematzadeh, president of Nemat Development Group at 559 Middle Neck Road in the Village of Great Neck, is, by profession, a developer, builder and contractor. But he did not begin that way. Coming to the United States from his home in Iran in 1961, he enrolled in the University of Miami. He hardly spoke any English and pretty much worked his way through school. “Only in America,” he said, with pride. He graduated Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering, eventually going on for an MBA at the University of Bridgeport. These degrees led him to work in research development engineering for AVCO Corporation in Connecticut, working on construction design and production for the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.
Although he returned to Iran in 1972, where he worked as a project manager for construction at the second Tehran Refinery (the last one built) he and his family returned to the U.S. in 1978. With his wife and child, he decided to head for America because he “saw signs of the revolution beginning.”
In 2003 the Nematzadeh family moved to Great Neck. And in addition to his work with the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Nematzadeh is involved in several other Iranian and Great Neck community organizations, including serving on the planning board for the Village of Kings Point and executive vice president of the Iranian-American Jewish Federation of New York. He also serves as a member of the central board of the Mashadi Jewish Committee of America and chairman of that organization’s public affairs committee and higher education committee.
Today Mr. Nematzadeh, his wife, their three daughters and two grandchildren enjoy life in Great Neck.
“I cherish the United States of America and all the opportunities this country has given me,” Mr. Netmatzadeh told the Record. And now Hooshang Netmatzadeh is determined to give back to his new country and to the Great Neck community that he and his family call home.