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BY THOMAS GRAY | As 2011 draws to a close, we have many milestones to look back upon at the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. The past year has been one of great change for both our area and our organization.
The G.V.C.C.C. service area faces several economic challenges with the continued absence of St. Vincent’s Hospital and increasing regulatory and legislative burdens on small businesses. Through our advocacy work on these issues, as well as our business-oriented programming and events, G.V.C.C.C. continues to help the small business in Greenwich Village, the East Village, Union Square, Chelsea, Flatiron, Soho and Noho, some of Manhattan’s most famous neighborhoods.
In April I left the office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to become the chamber’s new executive director. I bring several years of experience in the public sector dealing with land use, small businesses and economic development issues.
Drawing from my experience, the chamber took a strong position in support of the proposed Rudin Management and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System plan to bring an emergency healthcare center back to what was once St. Vincent’s. We continue to support the proposal as it makes its way through the ULURP process in an effort to revitalize the once-bustling area around St. Vincent’s and bring healthcare back to the West Village.
This year G.V.C.C.C. opposed both the living wage and paid sick leave bills in the interest of keeping the small business community afloat. In our work to encourage the community to shop locally, in February, we partnered with elected officials to host the first annual “Valentine for the Village” in February. Later that month, G.V.C.C.C. President Tony Juliano testified at the City Council hearing against the proposal to bring retail giant Walmart to New York City.
In celebration of the rich musical history of Greenwich Village we hosted our third annual “Village Jazz Alive” fundraiser, featuring and honoring the legendary Randy Weston at the Blue Note Jazz Club this past September. We continue to collaborate with other chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations to bring our members together in settings that draw a more diverse and engaging crowd than the typical business-to-business networking event.
This month, we will honor the men and women from the Sixth, Ninth, 10th and 13th police precincts who have distinguished themselves in their work keeping our city safe. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly will present this year’s Officer of the Year Awards.
This coming year promises to be equally busy for the chamber and our neighborhoods. The shift toward mobile applications and Web marketing is poised to continue to influence the economic climate for small businesses. Chamber members like Taap.it and Google (Chamber Champions since 2010), both of which are extremely integral to this process and serve as valuable resources for the chamber. A partnership with Taap.it will soon allow for chamber members to display a “Chamber Approved” logo to users and expand upon their online presence. Google also regularly hosts workshops with the chamber to help our members manage their online presence and attract new customers.
We thank the Greenwich Village and Chelsea communities for their support of the chamber and our members. Be sure to keep up to date with chamber events and issues by visiting our Web site, villagechelsea.com, and by joining our weekly mailing list. We hope to see you all on Thurs., Dec. 8, for our final public event of the year, the Eighth Annual Safe City Safe Streets. Join the chamber and our special guest, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Gray is executive director, Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce