BY GABE HERMAN | The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC) is in its 70th year and continuing its work to promote and advocate for businesses in the area.
“The whole idea for the Chamber is to stimulate the local economy,” said President Andres Pazmino. “We try to be holistic with our approach.” This includes making local connections for merchants, not just with other merchants, said Pazmino, but also with consumers and government agencies.
The Chamber’s boundaries go from 34th to Canal Streets, and the Hudson River to Third Avenue. There are 206 members, an increase from last year. “It shows that the Chamber is growing,” Pazmino said.
Some of GVCCC’s major partners include Starbucks Reserve, Google, NYU, Gottlieb real estate and Lyft, which has been involved in Chamber events like giving discounted rides as part of Shop Bleecker.
Pazmino noted a diverse group of members that also includes nonprofits like the American Cancer Society, family-owned small businesses like Li-Lac Chocolates and Walker Hotel, immigrant-owned stores like Tiziano Zorzan, and the woman-owned aRoqa Indian restaurant.
Pazmino has been president since April, and said he is still new and learning on the job. “It has been very rewarding,” he said. “I’m having a ball. I enjoy talking to merchants, I learn their challenges. They’re very smart people and care about the community at large, not just their businesses.”
The GVCCC advocates on issues affecting the local business community, such as an amendment on the Commercial Rent Tax, and paid time off legislation, which the Council opposes because it requires businesses with five or more employees to pay for the vacation. “While we’re not against the concept or principle of paying for employees’ vacation,” Pazmino said, “small businesses then don’t have resources to afford it, and it will chip away at the bottom line.”
There is a narrative that all business owners are rich, Pazmino said, “and that is not true, especially when you’re a small or medium-sized business or property owner.” He added, “We need to be careful not to generalize because there are lots of people that are entrepreneurial and not making as much as people think they are.”
Pazmino said he would like to see the government work with businesses to create less bureaucracy, and not to over-regulate, but instead provide some regulations while helping businesses to thrive. He said it can take a long time for businesses to get permits, including a 6-month waiting period for a liquor license. “It’s simple math,” he said. “It’s about government being more efficient with processes.”
The GVCCC also runs events aimed at helping businesses, many of which have been started in recent years by executive director Maria Diaz and can include discounts and promotions at local stores. The events include Chelsea Chew, the Village Arts Alive series, NYPD precinct tours through the Safe City Safe Streets program, and Shop Bleecker, which just concluded its November run, and which Diaz said is a favorite of hers.
The next Chamber event will be the annual Safe City Safe Streets luncheon on Dec. 12, which awards officers for the work they do in the community and relationships formed with GVCCC members. More information about the Chamber can be found at villagechelsea.com.