The Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce has served the village’s business community since April 1955, and it has since sponsored a variety of events to promote the village’s downtown. Recently, the Herald sat down with Dominick Minerva, the chamber president, to see what the organization has planned for the year.
How long have you been president?
I became president of the chamber in 2015, so this is my first term. The president serves two-year terms, and I’ve been nominated to serve a second term from 2017 to 2019. Before I was the president, I was on the board since 2003.
When is the election for the president?
The installation’s in September. The nominations were done, I believe, around April.
What is the chamber’s mission?
The mission of the Chamber of Commerce is to support local businesses. That’s the main goal, and we do that in many ways. [We] provide networking opportunities … referrals between chamber members, sharing information and the assistance for businesses, having events where they get to meet local public officials. We also provide advertising opportunities, sometimes directly through the chamber, other times partnering or sponsoring with other organizations.
What does the Chamber do?
We perform ribbon-cuttings for any new businesses as a way to promote them, and also as a way to introduce them to people in the community. Then we also do some community-type events that don’t directly relate to the businesses … and we provide scholarships annually. We organize, along with the Village of Valley Stream, the fireworks for the community. We sponsor the Summer Concert Series, and we also sponsor the Community Fest. We also purchase holiday lighting that the village installs every year, slowly replacing the old lighting with the LEDs.
What events do you have coming up?
Generally we’re off for the summer, but in September we start our general monthly luncheons on Wednesdays at noon once a month, and we also have a networking breakfast once a month. That’s on Tuesday mornings at 8 a.m. at Sip This. The luncheons rotate. We try to use different restaurants. We also have our annual dinner, which is Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Pompeii Restaurant, and at that dinner we install new officers, and we usually we give out two awards: an annual business award and an annual community award. We’ve been doing that for many, many years. We also have the Community Fest coming up, where we’re the main sponsor on Sept. 23.
We’ve heard from a couple of people in the community who want to rebuild the downtown area. What is the chamber trying to do about that?
We hope, just by supporting the downtown business community through our advertising, our holiday lights, that it will make it more attractive for other businesses. In terms of specific tenants coming into individual stores, we really have no control over that. Other things we’ve thought about and discussed are possibly having some sort of outdoor seating area, and I know the village was on their own starting that pilot program last year, and I know we’ve gotten positive feedback from the restaurants that are happy with the sidewalk dining. Things along that line would have to be in conjunction with the village, but we’ll try to add to that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We did partner with the village on some advertising with CGI Communications. We did both the video program, which is up on both the village website and the chamber’s website, and we also partnered with the village and CGI on the banner program, and all the new banners are up on Rockaway Avenue, advertising local businesses.
We’ve also had a steady membership every year in terms of local businesses that join, and for my second term I’d like to see if we can increase that membership.