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Chamber of Commerce Woes

chamber-of-commerceThe Chamber of Commerce is having troubles.  In a brief email last week to its members, Anissa New-Walker stated she was leaving the Chamber as Director of Marketing and Membership.  It seems unclear if she quit or the Board let her go, but the local grapevine suggests Board members found out through the email of her departure.

The Chamber has already downsized recently due to financial reasons, by letting staff go and finding less expensive office space.  It definitely leaves the question about whether the Chamber can continue to fulfill its mission to “advance the general welfare and prosperity of the Nyack area.”

There are two areas where the Chamber has not done well in its job, probably because its financial woes and lack of resources: the lack of promotion for Nyack’s Farmer’s Market, and the lack of support for local businesses in advocacy with Village Hall.

Last week the Farmer’s Market looked well under capacity.  If you ask the merchants at the market about business, you’ll find an interesting story.  Most will say that business over all is good.  This makes sense because one of the few industries doing well in this economy is consumer package and goods (CPG). So grocery stores and suppliers like General Mills are doing well, because people are buying food for home to save money.  It is the restaurants that are suffering from this trend.

But if you ask the merchants how sales are in Nyack, you’ll hear them say that is is down 25-35%.  And they know why: because there has been very little marketing promotion for Nyack’s Farmer’s Market, unlike our competitors like Piermont and other communities up the Hudson River Valley.  The Chamber of Commerce is responsible for promotion, and the only visible sign are lawn signs scattered around the area.

The other area in which the Chamber should be active, and is not, is representing the business community and its interests politically.  Store owners are too busy and don’t have the resources to represent themselves, but it is exactly what they are doing, as seen in last week’s Village Board meeting about parking.  Some may find the free parking crusade as misguided, but the Chamber should be the umbrella in which the store owners can discuss the issue, and promote their interests.

It is unfortunate that the Chamber is experiencing such financial difficulties, and thus unable to fulfill its mission.  It is now more than ever Nyack needs the Chamber’s services.

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