POMONA, N.Y. - From an office at Palisades Credit Union Park where he handles web design for WRCR.com, Tom Ossa explained his vision for commerce in the area.
In the next five years the president of the North Rockland Chamber of Commerce and owner of Rockland Web Design hopes the organization can develop into an information hub for local business owners.
“The more people that are involved, the easier it is to make decisions on how the local community is going to operate better,” Ossa said.
The chamber was established in January 2015 after the former North Rockland Business Alliance and the Greater Haverstraw Chamber of Commerce combined their resources and members. The rebuild after Superstorm Sandy along the Stony Point waterfront in 2012 spurred the collaboration between the two groups.
Despite having over 100 members, the chamber is still experiencing some growing pains, mainly attracting enough volunteers to work events and business owners to attend. Frankly, business owners are busy, Ossa admitted. Only around 20 percent of members have signed on for the next year and part of the problem, Ossa said, is many haven’t been contacted.
But the networking events, like an upcoming one on July 26 at the Hudson Water Club for business owners to connect, are part of what the chamber has to offer, along with business promotion on social media, website profiles, advocacy, and direct mail campaigns.
As a business group in a scenic, quiet community, the NRCC faces a predicament: how much business development is too much, and how can the business climate be improved while maintaining the community's character?
“The frustration from a business person’s perspective is you need more commerce in order to build up your personal finances. Everybody does,” Ossa said, adding there are very few attractions right now.
Some changes Ossa expects will impact the business community in the next 10 to 20 years: a population increase once the new Tappan Zee Bridge is completed, and the development of Letchworth Village, the Stony Point waterfront, and perhaps the areas along 9W (the most difficult area in his opinion due to the topography).
Shared work spaces, similar to Cuppa Pulp and CILK119 in Nanuet, are a creative way to attract businesses without a ton of land development. And a tourist attraction that isn't quite on the scale of Legoland is a must, he said.
“And we need something, we desperately need something,” Ossa said. The other option is to maintain the area as a quiet place. “But plan on commuting.”