WILLIAMSTOWN -- 2012 saw big changes for the Chamber of Commerce with a relocation and the introduction of a new executive director. But now, members hope to focus on growth in 2013.
The chamber held its annual meeting at Jiminy Peak on Thursday night, where it welcomed new board members and laid out hopes to continue expanding its role as a player in the community.
Jennifer Civello, executive director since August, said the chamber plans to continue to host events, build community relationships and market on radio, the web and social media in an effort to see businesses and nonprofits realize benefits from partnering with the organization.
Round table discussions between local business owners and more social media interaction between the chamber and local groups are two techniques that will be employed, Civello said.
"We want to make sure that [all members] are getting a good value for their membership," she said. "... We want to be held accountable."
Success would mean an increase of direct service benefits provided by the chamber, and would potentially result in new events hosted by the chamber. Events hosted by the chamber include Mayfest, Williamstown’s Fourth of July parade, Summer Sundays, the upcoming Holiday Walk on Dec. 1 and the Holiday Farmers Market scheduled for Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
Steve Conroy, Berkshire Family and Individual Resources’ director of Residential Services, was one among the new crop being welcomed to the chamber’s board.
"Williamstown is a place I love," Conroy said. "I was born and raised here and I’m excited to be in a position to give something back."
Conroy said he intends to bring his experience with nonprofits to the board and help spread knowledge about what he considers a vital part of the area’s economy.
"The economic impact the nonprofit sector has in Berkshire County is huge," Conroy said. "We have a very dense population of incredible human services organizations."
Conroy added that he’d like to help foster collaboration among various nonprofits and other groups to help reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Other new board members included Sue Durocher, Eric Kerns, Bernadette Lupo and Tracy McConnell.
The chamber currently has 117 members. New to this year are the Purple Pub, Neathawk Signs & Woodworking, Hobson’s Choice, Sweets and Beans, Hops and Vines and Goodwill.
The total includes 17 nonprofits, 11 restaurants, two colleges, four banks, five real estate agencies, nine ancillary health care providers, nine retail merchants and 29 service providers, to name some.
Thursday’s speaker was Bill Schmick, an investment advisor and public speaker whose columns appear in the Transcript and other news outlets throughout the area. Schmick spoke about the country’s ongoing credit crisis, economic inequality and the looming "fiscal cliff."
He predicted some form of compromise between Democrats and Republicans during the fiscal cliff talks, but said that recovery demands the stemming of economic inequality, which he attributed to global capitalism and increased government stimulus.
"Don’t mistake capitalism for a political system," Schmick said. " ... We need another New Deal."
To reach Phil Demers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.