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:

Representation:

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. 

Community Involvement:

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.

Shop local:

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.

Inform Members:

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.

Networking:

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.

Discounts:

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.


Comments(28):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Rob, I am thrilled that you are putting this forward now.  As you know, I am in fervent agreement that Chapp/Millwood needs a Chamber of Commerce, not only for existing businesses but to draw in new ones.  I dare say the town is on an upswing with all of the new stores and especially King Street Restaurant (enjoyed the write-up, by the way) coming in.  I am happy to help in any way you need.  It is a big undertaking to get a C.O.C. in place, but so necessary to keep our area thriving.  You are probably aware of many of the national “shop local” movements in place (The 3/50 Project being one great example) that are providing assistance in efforts to get downtowns rolling again.  These would be great resources to tap.
Thanks so much for stepping forward.

By Dawn Greenberg, Aurora on 03/02/2012 at 8:30 am

I totally agree w/u that our town needs a Chamber of Commerce.

By Roberta Lasky on 03/02/2012 at 8:52 am

Nice idea!

By Very nice! on 03/02/2012 at 12:42 pm

Rob - Its really nice to see someone taking the initiative to help revive the town!  Many of us were hurt immeasurably by the hurricane as well as the economy in the past and could use all the local support we can get!  Thanks so much for rallying!

By Stacy Carr, Always the children on 03/03/2012 at 2:02 pm

We are surrounded by thriving towns - all have Chambers of Commerce.

http://www.armonkchamberofcommerce.org
http://www.pleasantville.com
http://www.mtkiscochamber.com

Why not us?

By Why not us? on 03/05/2012 at 5:42 am

I’m not sure if a Chamber of Commerce is the answer but doing nothing has not worked.  Something has to be done.  It’s worth a shot.

By Worth a Shot on 03/05/2012 at 6:19 am

I would love to be part of a new Chamber of Commerce for Chappaqua/Millwood.  I am a long time resident running a new business in downtown Chappaqua.  A Chamber could bring new business opportunities to us all.

By Ann Herrero, Edward Jones Investments on 03/05/2012 at 7:04 am

Having an active Chamber of Commerce would be a great help to our town. There are so many groups and individuals with the same goal, to have a vibrant town, that brings us all together, for events, shopping and just for interacting with each other. With a strong merchants’ group it would be easier to implement ideas and promotions. Thanks Rob, for putting forward the idea and hopefully, helping to create it.

By Chappaqua Farmers Market on 03/05/2012 at 7:06 am

Mr. Greenstein, will you be running for town board again?

By curious on 03/05/2012 at 7:36 am

Thanks, Rob, for staying in touch and caring about the community! It’s been said many times before but bears repeating….we need the right type of stores in our town. So often I need to visit other towns to complete my necessary shopping. Sadly I can’t do “bulk” grocery shopping where I live but am bombarded by nail salons everywhere-truly pathetic!

By long-time Chappaqua resident on 03/05/2012 at 7:51 am

I haven’t ruled it out but the fact is that I’m still working on the things that are important to me - like working on revitalizing our downtown hamlets & the turf committee - so right now it’s not something I need to consider.

By Rob Greenstein on 03/05/2012 at 8:43 am

I think there is one, but it’s inactive.  Someone should talk to Barry at Family Britches, I think he was running it. 

Great idea Rob!  We’ll sign up.

By hopeful on 03/05/2012 at 9:08 am

Anything we can do to help our downtown thrive, we are all for it…


By Emmary Day Spa on 03/05/2012 at 12:10 pm

Barry’s “merchant association” seems to do some things, like collect money for the entertainment for sidewalk sales day, but we need a real chamber of commerce.  I like the direction you’re pointing in, Rob, and it’s really time.  I’m setting aside my dues right now!  Come and get ‘em!

By Time for a REAL chamber of commerce on 03/05/2012 at 12:17 pm

Yes, yes please organize one.  We’re all so busy keeping our heads above water, we need some new blood - someone to get us into a Chamber.  Just do it! 

And thank you!

By There's a lot to do on 03/05/2012 at 12:18 pm

@ Hopeful:

Really, we already have a Chamber of Commerce?  I think most residents would be surprised to hear that.  Was it ever active?  Does it have any members?  Does it do anything on behalf of the merchants?  Did it ever do anything on behalf of the merchants?

I think it’s time to start fresh.

By Really? on 03/05/2012 at 12:50 pm

I absolutely agree that we need a Chamber of Commerce for Chappaqua and have heard many of the new businesses’ express their ideas for a successful one…Basically, there have been many businesses go in and out in a short amount of time and those who stay often have said to me that they ‘do not have the time’ to attend meetings…

There are many of us that have the drive and ambition to make Chappaqua be all that it can be and there are others who do not see the ‘big picture’ in inter-community networking and supporting each other. Basically, I would suggest harnessing the energy and ideas of those who are interested and to have some strong leaders in place.

The Business Association has helped pay for some great promotional things and Barry’s efforts in keeping the merchants aware of town events is great, but there is truth to the thought that it has not really picked up momentum…I would suggest speaking to Barry to find out how many active members, etc…

Rob, I applaud your efforts for 1) caring about our town 2) offering your time, energy & expertise towards this project. Over the years, I have often tried to rally merchants into a cohesive group with shared common goals, and often found myself deflated by lack of effort from others as well as non-participation. But, with the current group of merchants I think we really could do this! Count me in smile

By Tara Mikolay, Owner Desires by Mikolay on 03/05/2012 at 3:20 pm

Rob—Do you have an e-mail you are willing to give out to contact you about this?

By Anonymous on 03/05/2012 at 9:53 pm

Yes, I just created an gmail account for this project. It is:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By Rob Greenstein on 03/06/2012 at 10:08 am

Rob - I applaud your efforts, you can count me in.

By Cindy Lupica - Marmalade Gift + Home on 03/06/2012 at 2:52 pm

Rob,

Thank you for getting behind this.  It will be very good for the town.

By Roberta Gallant on 03/07/2012 at 12:15 am

Rob, I think this a great Idea and you can count me in! Thank you for efforts!!

By Beth- Whispering Pines of Chappaqua on 03/07/2012 at 9:36 am

Rob,
Great idea. I have been a merchant in our town for 15 years, and have seen many changes to our town. I think the merchants need to have a bigger say in our community. All of the residents of the town have been very kind to us over the years, and I feel it is our responsibility to help try to fix some issues pertaining to our down town area.

By Scott Reilly owner Prescriptions for Fitness on 03/07/2012 at 1:03 pm

Rob,
We absolutely need some organization in town. There are two working chambers from what I recall. Barry at Family Britches works one and Jim Meyer and Matt Spencer of Meyer & Spencer, PC on So. Greeley also started one several years back.
I agree with many of the comments above. One of the residents wrote about the need for the “right types of stores”, the lack of a bulk grocery store and having to go to another town for their needs. Once a consumer leaves the town for one thing, they will then begin to shop elsewhere for all of their needs. One stop shopping. This is what has happened to our town over the years.

Our town needs diversity. We need to get new, fresh, retail businesses in town to attract from the surrounding areas. The townspeople need a reason to want to shop the town. It is difficult when there is little to offer.

As a merchant in town for over 15 years, I try to support as many other merchants as I can on a business level and a personal level. I urge all of the merchants and townspeople to use the retailers and service providers here in town.

By Kirk Sprenger / Chappaqua Wine & Spirit Co. on 03/08/2012 at 11:26 am

What we need is leadership that can respond in a itouch, iphone, blackberry, manner. As a community we have to stop thinking that forming another party, organization, or group; is going to help the bottom line. What we need is leadership to originate from where leadership is located, and that is Town Hall. Yes, Rob has a great idea, and his idea has or does spark questions of ...“Are you going to run again” ?? Lets keep the focus on Town Hall and place forth suggestions that can help the business owners and merchants of the area within the structure that exists and was Voted into power. Let the power brokers hear from Rob as he talks into the microphone that allows the various Town Boards to hear our suggestions. Would this be a function of a new Chamber of Commerce; if so, then it appears we are all NOT HAPPY with how “things” are still being conducted at Town Hall.

By Leadership on 03/08/2012 at 4:43 pm

Leadership,

Do you really think leadership should be limited to the Town Hall?  What a simple & naive view. Some would respect that I stand by what I said during an election, and take actions when something is important to me.  Like I did with Chappaqua Crossing, and like I will continue to do in order to revitalize our downtown business hamlets and increase our commercial tax base.  I will continue to do that whether I am on the Town Board, or not.  Others choose to post anonymously using an alias like “leadership,” which they obviously have no clue about.

By Rob Greenstein on 03/09/2012 at 11:45 am

The Town of New Castle is on the local level, not the national level. Perhaps your response would be understood if you had to travel all over the Country getting votes. For a small Municipality, the controlling Party / Administration calls the shots. You, or any other individual living in New Castle, don’t have enough money to pursuade Town Hall one way or the other. Ultimately, Town Hall gets, what Town Hall always wants. Yes they will listen, yes they will be helpful, and yes they will wait until the individuals, groups, or entities in front of them, start singing to their TUNES. Leadership is found within the four walls of Town Hall, entrepreneurship is found on the outside of Town Hall. Don’t get them confused.

By For Rob G. on 03/19/2012 at 1:14 pm

This sounds like the most serious proposal for a “real” Chamber since I arrived to live in Chappaqua 15 years ago. If my magazine, which has been mailing to virtually every address in Chappaqua and Millwood (“and beyond”) for nine years now can be of service, please let me know. Along with New Castle Now,I hope you don’t mind me saying that it’s certainly a great bet for getting word of the new organization out to the community. June and July/August issue is closed but we mail again mid-August and assign some time in June for September. Best of luck to everyone involved. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By Grace Bennett, Publisher and Editor, Inside Chappa on 05/17/2012 at 9:48 pm


Post a comment:

Display Name*:

Your Display Name will be associated with this comment on NewCastleNOW.org. We encourage commentators to use their real name or initials.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. In other words, be pithy and polite. All comments will be reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.