Capturing the soul of New York

We spent time with Gina Argento, President and CEO of Broadway Stages

When your business sets up shop in one part of the city, runs the cameras, then moves on to another location, you get a one-of-a-kind perspective on just what community really means.

Tell us a little bit about your business

My name is Gina Argento, and I am the President and CEO of Broadway Stages. I was born in Queens, New York to Italian immigrants. I received a Catholic School education followed by a business degree at St. John’s University. 

While attending school, I spent my summers—and much of my free time during the rest of the year—working and assisting my brother Tony, who founded Broadway Stages in 1983. 

Broadway Stages is a privately owned company that provides studio and ancillary space for film and television production. Things like sound stage, office, scenic, shop, pre- and post-production space. Basically everything an early production company would need to be successful.

We’re currently operating throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island with over 2 million square feet dedicated to the film industry.  Our clients include, Netflix, NBC, Showtime TV, HBO and CBS to name a few.

Would you say this is your dream business?

Yes, it feels like a dream how much we’ve grown. It’s like a Cinderella story without the glass slipper. We started with a single stage, a dilapidated movie theatre, and have since grown to over 50 stages across three boroughs and into a full-service production facility for an industry that provides billions of dollars to the New York economy.

Aside from the challenges of providing for an industry that is constantly expanding, it’s fun to be able to walk onto different sets and be transported to different worlds. One day I could be on a film set that takes place in the 70’s and on another, a city with a crime-fighting hero. It’s definitely one of the more interesting and fun parts of the business. 

I also love that I can take my properties and use them for the good and betterment of the community. On top of one of our Kingsland sound stages we built out a 25,000 square foot rooftop garden in conjunction with the Audubon Society and Newtown Creek Alliance. This partnership allows us to do our part in the cleanup the Newtown Creek, which has been polluted for more than a century. We also built a rooftop garden above our Eagle St. soundstage and put solar panels on a number of others. All of these green initiatives will help us create a clearer and safer environment for our community, and I think that’s pretty great.

What are some challenges you’ve faced?

One of our biggest challenges for New York—and our business—is providing ample space for this industry. It’s scaling to new heights each year with companies like Netflix and Amazon, which provide a subscription based online streaming service. 

Additionally, the TV and film industries aren’t always embraced by the community. To some it’s frustrating to have to deal with large trucks, lights, noise, closed off streets, and they’d rather filming take place elsewhere. Getting the community to rally behind us is definitely a challenge, but we also have many community members who stand behind us and the industry. We have created hundreds, if not thousands, of local jobs, help local businesses, support local organizations, and we work with the local government to help ease the challenges the community faces. For example, last year, we supported Councilman Chaim Deutch’s legislation to suspend alternate side parking around filming locations to make parking easier. We also proposed changing the direction for traffic going on N. Henry St. to relieve traffic congestion. These are just a few ways we work to make the community better for all.

Talk about your neighborhood

We have been headquartered in Greenpoint, Brooklyn since the early 90’s. We set up shop here in the heart of a manufacturing zone, neighbored by a family-oriented community. As a business leader in Greenpoint, we do our best to support Greenpoint in various ways, either through STEM school programs at PS110, cleaning up McGlorick Park, giving to local organizations, or supporting the mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood.

I want everyone to see that Greenpoint is a wonderful neighborhood where everyone supports each other. We love seeing local businesses succeed, and when one struggles, we try to do our part to help out. 

We also want our clients to feel at home. Some come to New York from all across the country, and they need to call our stages and our community home for the next 8-10 months. The rest is show business.

Why is it important to choose a local bank?

Creating meaningful relationships throughout the business, especially with your local banks, provides better understanding of what we do here. It’s part of our principle of culture- spending and supporting locally.

Besides service, solutions and rates, I encourage bankers to visit the people they service and understand the day-to-day challenges of those businesses. Whether it is a business of selling coffee or manufacturing film and television for a global market, your banker should know your name and what you do.

What excites you about the future?

I am excited to continue growing and continue giving back to my community. The community is so important to me. I am fortunate enough to be able to constantly give back, whether it’s through charitable donations, event sponsorships or environmental and sustainable impacts, and I want to continue doing that as long as we are here. We are also excited to continue our relationship and partnership with the local police precincts and public schools, supporting local events, initiatives and more. The community is as much as a part of us as we are to them.

Have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

If you’re fortunate enough that you are able to give back to your community, do so. Do not neglect them, because they can be your biggest support system when you need them, but only if you show how much you care. Give back to everyone – the schools, the police, the fire department and the community groups. Everyone is important and plays a role in the growth, safety and well-being of your community. 
Additionally, trust your intuition and develop a system where your employees can thrive in.

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