Villager file photo
Elizabeth Butson, publisher emeritus of The Villager, right, honored folk legend Odetta with the Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Village Music Legends Award in November.
By working together, businesses are staying strong
By Dirk McCall
Over the last year the Greenwich Village – Chelsea Chamber of Commerce has had a great number of successes. We launched our first jazz event to celebrate the musical culture of our communities and honored Odetta, who sang a song and inspired us all. We doubled the number of attendees and participating companies at our L.G.B.T. Career Fair, Out to Work, which we co-produce with the L.G.B.T. Center. And we honored our local heroes from the Sixth, Ninth, Tenth and Thirteenth precincts at our Safe Cities, Safe Communities Awards.
Our exciting and productive networking events continue to gain in popularity, with attendance up nearly 25 percent. We host a networking luncheon and a networking mixer every month, always in Chamber-member establishments, and help folks meet local business leaders, make new friends and find new leads and contacts. Our annual gala recognized not only our past executive director, Bob Zuckerman, now a leading candidate for City Council in Brooklyn, but also New York University’s Lynne Brown, truly one of the greatest leaders in the Village, and the McBurney YMCA, a cherished local institution. Randy Jones of the Village People, who immortalized the old 23rd St. location of the McBurney YMCA, attended and helped present the award.
The Chamber fought for local businesses, working with the New York City Department of Transportation to survey all the merchants on the Eighth Ave. corridor to solicit their input on the proposed bike lanes — which many actively opposed, but some felt would be beneficial to the environment. Chamber staff worked closely with state Senator Tom Duane and his office to identify where loading zones needed to be, and have been in regular contact with D.O.T. to advocate for our businesses. G.V.C.C.C. has testified on a number of occasions before Community Boards 2, 3, 4 and 5 on various applications, working to help bring more business to the community, increase pedestrian foot traffic and ensure good operators are able to keep their businesses strong during these difficult economic times.
Despite the economic downturn, we have been joined by a number of new companies — almost a 40 percent increase in new membership — and have had a slew of new board members, including Michael Conte of Honig Conte Porrino, Patricia Lynch of Patricia Lynch Associates, John Rappaport of the McBurney YMCA, and Michael Fagan of St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center.
We continue to help businesses expand their business-to-business sales, identify new opportunities and meet the right people in our communities. We continue to support the cultural life of the Village and Chelsea, and have coordinated a successful nonprofit breakfast series with TD Bank.
In 2009, we are renewing many of our informational luncheons, launching new programs with Amalgamated Bank, restarting our breakfast series with TD Bank and continuing our networking events. Join our Facebook page, our mailing list or both — the Chamber exists to help support the small business community and keep our local economy diverse and vibrant. Only together can we ensure that our community remains strong!
McCall is executive director, Greenwich Village - Chelsea Chamber of Commerce