About 50 people attended the second meeting to discuss relaunching the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce. The phrase used with the Highview Community Playground came up: "Build it and They will Come." Opened recently by , said they plan to be actively involved with the chamber and catered Monday night's meeting.
Most people who spoke said that the Chamber needs to be organized and formed first and then the businesses will come on board. The last month focused on determining community and business interest in starting a chamber. No leadership was set. However at Monday night’s meeting, there was discussion on committees needed to begin a chamber and opportunities for people to step up into leadership roles.
“We would really like as many people get involved as possible, in any capacity that they would like to be involved,” said Risa Hoag—of Nanuet and GMG Public Relations—suggesting a restaurant sub-committee and participation from Nanuet students. “I would like to see this become something that involves the entire community, not just the businesses, just because it’s so closely tied together.”
There is a process to form a chamber of commerce, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The following committees need to be formed to get the process started.
- Initial Committee—create by-laws, mission statement, member dues and this committee would preferably have an accountant and lawyer.
- Member Benefits Committee—discuss and decide what benefits businesses and community members would have in joining the chamber
- Nominating Committee—this group would take care of nominations of members for the chamber’s board
- Marketing Committee—creates the logo, website, membership cards and get advertising
Although there is a national chamber of commerce organization, you do not have to belong to it. Their How-To manual on how to begin a chamber is attached to this article. Their definition of a chamber of commerce is:
A chamber of commerce is a voluntary partnership of business and professional people working together to build a healthy economy and to improve the quality of life in a community. As a chamber works to accomplish these goals, it must be able to take on many different functions: economic developer and planner, tourist information center, business spokesperson, economic counselor and teacher, government relations specialist, human resources advisor, and public relations practitioner.
“The chamber would help to do an awful lot of things to help promote business here in Nanuet,” said Clarkstown Councilman George Hoehmann. "We go around to a number of the other chambers. None of the local chambers seem to be members of the national organization. They're pretty much organic local organizations."
“While I see (the chamber) as a business function, I’m a business owner and a resident, so I stand to benefit from whatever goes on here that moves (Nanuet) in a positive direction, whether it’s my home value or my business,” said Hoag.
“This has come about at a very good time with Simon (Property), our quarter studies and zoning,” said Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack. He added that one of the purposes of the recent was to get people comfortable with walking around in downtown New City.
"(The New City Street Fair), the idea is to draw folks into town to frequent those businesses. In that area, the focus is on drawing business in to the existing establishments, but there are also some members who are just residents because everybody is interested in their specific community," said Councilman Frank Borelli. He added that the current New City downtown revitalization has been disruptive for businesses and the chamber is the businesses' voice to the town with addressing concerns with construction.
County Legislator Chris Carey added that there is "The chamber is two-fold: one is to share information between businesses and two, to have a voice with the town and county. There will be common problems among businesses (such as zoning) and I think that there is more power when 20 or 30 businesses come together to talk than just two or three having separate conversations."
Build it and They Will Come
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The main question was, do we get businesses and landlords on board first and then create the chamber or do we create the chamber first and then they will come on board?
Jim Damiani, of and a past Nanuet Rotary President, pointed out that a lot of owners and business tenants on Main Street were not present at this meeting.
“The landlords and tenants, those are the people you have to have here. You have to have people who are in the position to do something in making Nanuet more attractive,” he said. “If they’re not here, you need to find out why they’re not here.”
Hardy said that after a few years of trying, he was finally able to get the restaurants in Pearl River on board with Pearl River Day.
“They had great success and (the chamber’s) membership boosted because of that,” said Hardy. “I’m hoping you guys form a chamber.”
Most said that the bones of the chamber needed to be formed first, such as committees and a mission statement, to attract businesses and landlords into joining.
“The idea is, when we build it, they will come. Let’s get a chamber started first,” said Timothy Chhim, owner of the All State Insurance building in Nanuet. “I will go with Jim (Flynn) to knock on doors. They haven’t heard about this yet and I think they need to hear about it more than once. They’ll come. But we need a mission statement and by-laws and go from there. I don’t live here, but I own buildings and I would like to see Nanuet get these improvements.”
"I think it needs to be spelled out structurally, the object of the chamber, the direction, dues,” said Roy Giampiccolo, and a Nanuet Rotarian.
"I’ll be very happy once you establish what the goals are first,” said Bob Gregory of .
The floor was opened up for brainstorming and ideas. Check back with Patch tomorrow morning for the discussion details on these topics:
- Working with Existing Organizations
- Fixing Up Main Street
- Community Outreach
At the end of the meeting, Hoag asked for contacts of everyone that was interested, whether it’s to offer a service or skill, to join the chamber or a committee, or even just to stay informed. Those interested in joining this list can contact Risa Hoag at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Kim Tran at Kim@Patch.
Hoag started a Wiggio site for the work-in-progress chamber.
“Wiggio is a way to coordinate groups. It has calendar and online chat room. It’s a way for all of us to keep involved and stay in touch with each other,” she said.
The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on May 10 at the Nanuet Library.