Letter to the Editor: It’s time to form a New Castle Chamber of Commerce
March 2, 2012
by Rob Greenstein
We’ve all come to realize that New Castle’s commercial base is very small. Greater commercial revenue = less dependence on residential taxes to run our town and schools. We need our merchant/business community, and they need us. We must all work together to achieve our common objectives. An important part of the way forward is to create a strong Chamber of Commerce for Chappaqua and Millwood.
Membership in a Chamber of Commerce would have its benefits:
A Chamber would work as a voice for its members in both local and state government. A chamber would discuss major issues affecting the business community and take positions for action. The Chamber would have a seat at the table in helping to rework the town development plan, and to help brainstorm on the integration of commercial development at Chappaqua Crossing, as it rents more space.
The Chamber would work to improve the quality of life and the business environment. For example, the Chamber can work to increase the nightlife in town. They can take a greater role in increasing the number of children’s baseball games. Every kid should have the opportunity to play on our beautiful recreation field under the lights. A Chamber can take a greater role in making adult softball games and high school football games events that are exciting community-wide events. These are opportunities for businesses to be involved in the life of our town.
The merchants should have a say in the musical acts for the summer concerts, and take a greater role in the outdoor community activities such as the Farmer’s Market, Little League Opening Day, the Ragamuffin Parade and the Holiday Tree Lighting. A Chamber can work to make the gazebo a nighttime destination by organizing local food vendors to sell food at events. They can take a greater role in seeing the Community Center come alive at night. It’s an underused resource now. Likewise, a Chamber can develop win-win partnerships with town programs, such as food vendors providing lunch for town camp.
Our community’s great fundraising events – whether Chappaqua School Foundation, Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund, the Chappaqua Turf Committee, the Chappaqua Library Used Book Sale, the Historical Society’s Antique Sale and its House Tour – all present great opportunities to partner with an organized Chamber of Commerce to leverage publicity and donations, to boost excitement and participation in these great events. The Chamber can work to make its members’ generosity known through more than a label on a silent auction item.
The Chamber would work to keep the money flowing within the community and make those dollars work for our community. For example, the Chamber could organize “shop local” days that involve discount programs and make signage for these events that is professional-looking.
Keep members informed about any and all regulatory issues that could affect their businesses. Merchants should have a say when in town construction projects are planned.
Meet and network with other businesses and residents, learn who’s looking for new space or who’s considering adding a new product. Merchants can get ideas from others in the community with expertise. A Chamber website will have a mechanism through which customers can make suggestions.
Member-to-member discount program. Like Armonk’s does, our Chamber could give fellow merchant members a 10% discount in fellow member stores.
Now is the time to build a cohesive and effective Chamber of Commerce.