The second meeting to discuss the possibility of a Nanuet Chamber of Commerce was this past Monday. About 50 people came out to throw around ideas. The looked at committees, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the fact that most people suggested that the chamber be formed first and the landlords and businesses will come on board after.
In this second Patch article, we'll look into detail these discussion topics:
- Working with Existing Organizations
- Fixing Up Main Street
- Community Outreach
At the end of the meeting, Risa Hoag—GMG Public Relations and a Nanuet resident—asked for contacts of everyone that was interested, whether they could offer a service or skill, join the chamber or a committee, or even just to stay updated as to the chamber's progress. Those interested in joining this list can contact Risa Hoag at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Nanuet Patch Editor 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.
Working with Existing Organizations
One concern brought up was how a chamber of commerce would interact or possibly compete with current groups such as the Nanuet Civic Association, the Nanuet Rotary and Nanuet Lions. At the end of the meeting, it was decided that the chamber would need to meet with these organizations and discuss the core purpose of each group and how best to coexist in Nanuet.
“I thought that the chamber of commerce was specifically for business people in the community that want to give something to the community that they’re gaining from,” said Bob Gregory of . He added that he believed non-business community members should be a part of the Nanuet Civic Association rather than the Chamber of Commerce, but he wasn’t sure if this is how chambers are or should be.
Hoag replied to his question by reading a section from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
“Chamber of commerce members are businesses, organizations, and individuals concerned with the socioeconomic climate of a community. These groups have joined together because they stand a better chance of getting things done when speaking with one voice. Chamber members include the small hardware store on the corner, the mom-and-pop diner, the established bank downtown, and your local baseball team. There is no limit or restrictions on the number or kinds of members that choose to get involved in a chamber of commerce.”
“I’ve been trying to get more residents involved in our chamber because our decisions affects them as well,” said Pearl River Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Hardy
Hoag added that she originally was looking to start a group beyond just a chamber of commerce. A group that would involve the entire Nanuet community to actively make things happen in town, much like the Highview Community Playground.
However, she added that the feedback from the first meeting was that most preferred to keep this as a chamber of commerce.
Gregory asked what more could a chamber do if all its tasks could be and should be done by an existing civic association.
Nanuet Patch Editor Kim Tran offered that she felt a civic association’s main purpose was to serve as a platform and voice for community members and town/county officials.
“My intention was to actually increase the attendance and involvement of businesses with the civic association. We haven’t gotten a great response,” said Valerie Moldow, realtor and who sits on the board of the Nanuet Civic Association. “I look at this organization as a way to enhance what we do and integrate our efforts together and help each other. I don’t see it as a conflict.”
“It’s not one against the other. We should look at … not duplicating things,” said Hoag. “This is still at an exploratory stage.”
"I don’t want us to fall into the trap of recreating another civic association or rotary club. I think those organizations have purposes and we should leave them to do their purposes and not (overlap)," said Clem Yeboah, president of ATAX on Main Street in Nanuet. "I think the first step is forming a chamber and allowing the chamber to strategize. The key is to present ourselves in a very focused way and that our goals are achievable."
Fixing Up Main Street
“The reason this came about was because of the (Shops at Nanuet) going in,” said Hoag. “People are going to be traveling down Main Street to get to that mall. All the marketing is going to be done for those businesses and for Nanuet because everyone’s going to want to come and see this new mall. To drive through Main Street ... it doesn’t look the best it can look.”
Jim Damiani, of Rand Realty and a Nanuet Rotary past president, said that the chamber needs to be work with commercial brokers in getting the word out about the incoming mall; in doing this, brokers may attract higher-end businesses or owners who are willing to fix up the facades.
“I do think that there is room for improvement … for a few things that are quite an eyesore. If I were a property owner on Main Street, I’d be shaking in my boots because there’s a big dog (the Shops at Nanuet) in town that’s about to flex its muscles and give them a lot of competition,” said Damiani. “As a broker, I’m always encouraging my clients to beautify their properties. We do have some property owners who are doing this and they are successful in attracting businesses. The next step is, as community residents, are we patronizing those people … giving them positive reinforcement for what they’re doing in the town?”
“Every business on Main Street and Route 59, tell them what we’re about and ask them to join. It’s the domino effect. If everybody participates and sees their neighbors doing better and looking better, they’ll fall in line," said Gregory.
"The chamber will be a voice to lead in the economic development in Nanuet … and to lead in the commercial enhancement of the town," said Yeboah. "It’s not just Main Street that’s the problem. There are other areas of Nanuet that need help and we need to look at this in a more holistic manner."
Nanuet Resident Jim Flynn said that there is grant money out there because Suffern recently received money to update storefronts of businesses, according to lohud.com.
Flynn that there is a disconnect between the businesses in Nanuet and groups around them, such as the civic association and the school. For example, he said the Nanuet Family Resource Center has had difficulties in getting local businesses to get a booth at their upcoming Nanuet Family Day Festival on June 25.
Nanuet Resident Madeline Gonzales suggested the chamber form a committee to reach out to the community and that communication through the schools is an effective way of reaching the community.