The Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce is back and aiming to be better than ever, with an enthusiastic new executive director, at least 10 new member businesses, and support from Assemblymember Joseph Lentol and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which has designated it the first-ever Community Satellite member of the borough-wide merchants organization.
At the first mixer for the newly re-launched organization, held at the Red Star Bar on Tuesday, October 23, Jeff Mann, publisher of the Greenpoint Gazette, was announced as the Greenpoint Chamber’s new executive director, chosen for his commitment to knowing what’s going on in the community and his help in getting the group off the ground, said Lentol.
“Working with the Brooklyn Chamber for past several years made me realize how our neighborhood needed the same type of structure,” explained Mann, who has worked in the area for over 15 years. “[We need it] for transportation issues, specific needs for the local community that a bigger organization can’t necessarily focus on. We’re really fortunate that Carlo Scissura has exactly the same vision.”
Scissura, who recently took on the role of president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber after five years as chief of staff for Borough President Marty Markowitz, noted that “Brooklyn is a large borough and we can’t do it alone. We are happy that the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce has been created so that we can work with them.”
On the creation of satellite chambers in Brooklyn neighborhoods, Scissura said that they will enable the Chamber to extend its resources and network “to every part of this diverse borough. Greenpoint is thriving and an area growing with new businesses. For that reason, we are excited about the chance of working together.”
Originally established in 1930, the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce was an advocate for local merchants through the early 1980s and several efforts to restart it failed, until now.
According to Lentol, who Mann credited with running with a comment he made this past spring about local businesses needing a rallying point, “having a way to advocate for the community in areas that have a direct and indirect effect on the success of our neighborhood’s businesses is even more important.”
“I am out in the neighborhood daily, which allows me to know what is happening with businesses in the community and what their needs are. This is where the Greenpoint Chamber differs from the Brooklyn Chamber,” he explained. “We provide that local voice your business need.”
So far, such needs could range from holiday lights on Manhattan Avenue and concerns about the homeless population in front of stores to Franklin Avenue’s growing reputation as a spot for boutiques, said Mann. “A trip to Greenpoint is as significant a fashion trip as anywhere in the city,” he said.
Another Greenpoint Chamber mixer is being planned for November, and the next few weeks will bring both an official member benefits package, a 2013 agenda, meetings, member promotions and possible fundraising ideas. Membership costs $300 per year.
“The goal is to keep bringing people in, tell stories, and get the word out about [businesses in Greenpoint],” said Mann. “As long as [we all do our] jobs, we know members will say this is a real organization. The more members we have the more powerful we are. It’s remarkable that even though we’re still small, so much can be done.”