Just how Brooklyn is your company?
That was the question the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce posed to businesses claiming to be Brooklyn to the core. Its new “Brooklyn Made” certification is an effort to define exactly how Kings County a company is — with the “most Brooklyn” operations getting a gold star!
At the top of the list was Michael’s of Brooklyn, a national purveyor of pasta sauces (or gravy, but that’s a story for another day) whose owner said his new designation separates him from the posers.
“So many products come on to the market that have nothing to do with Brooklyn,” said Michael Cacace, who runs Michael’s out of Sheepshead Bay. “They just slap a ‘Brooklyn’ label on it.”
Cacace knows there is a lot in a name, especially for his sauces.
“People want a piece of Brooklyn,” he said. “Through our products and by eating our foods.”
The first crop of gold-certified Brooklyn businesses included a cornucopia of makers and shakers such as Brooklyn Soda Works, American Architectural Window, and a custom guitar company called Femenella Custom.
A couple of bigger names landed on the silver list, including the three-dimensional printing company MakerBot, which has offices Downtown and a production facility in Sunset Park, and IceStone, a manufacturer of counter tops which operates out of the Navy Yard.
To be eligible for a Brooklyn seal, companies had to be headquartered in Brooklyn and make something, so service providers did not qualify. The Chamber’s panel then looked at a number of factors to determine “Brooklyn-ness” — and ranked companies as gold, silver, or bronze based on how much production is done in the borough, how many employees live here, and where each pays its taxes.
“We really want you to be all about Brooklyn,” said Chamber president Carlo Scissura, announcing the first group of companies to get the seal. “You’re not real Brooklyn if you’re not ‘Brooklyn Made.’ ”
Not every Brooklyn company has been given a designation, possibly because to be considered for the program, a company had to pay a $50 application fee. One notable company that is missing is the Brooklyn Brewery, which took a gamble in touting the borough brand back in the day when, for out-of-towners, the name Brooklyn conjured images of “Welcome Back Cotter” rather than, say Williamsburg bikes with cup-holders.
Scissura made the announcement last Tuesday at a boutique gift store in Cobble Hill called “By Brooklyn” that only sells products from Kings County. The Chamber said 47 businesses applied for the certification, and 41 of them received the stamp of approval. The companies that made the cut are from all walks of industry, Scissura said.
“Brooklyn is not a one-product town,” he said. “It’s an every-product town.”