Cocktail reception gives members chance to meet-and-greet
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce took its show on the road, hosting a meet-and-greet for its members in a Bay Ridge restaurant Wednesday evening.
The “Chamber Visits Bay Ridge” event, sponsored by chamber member Ben Bay Realty Co. of Bay Ridge, drew a crowd of more than 200 business owners to the Pearl Room, an eatery at 8201 Third Ave., where chamber members had the chance to become acquainted with one another and do some professional networking.
Business cards were being exchanged all evening. And that’s precisely the idea, according to Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the chamber, who said the cocktail reception is designed to help members promote their companies in a relaxed atmosphere.
“A lot of our members have never met each other. An event like this gives them the chance to say hello and to put a face with a name,” Scissura told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It’s my hope that it starts off with an introduction and then leads to people going out to dinner with each other and exchanging ideas.”
A main part of the chamber’s mission is to help businesses in the borough grow, Scissura said. Headquartered on Adams Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the Chamber is an organization that develops and manages business assistance programs. The Chamber was founded in 1918.
Regina Scire, market manager for Investors Bank, said the bank gets a lot of benefits out of being a chamber member. “It gives us exposure. It helps us get the word out there about the services we provide,” she told the Eagle.
The Chamber holds about 10 of these meet-and-greet events each year, Scissura said. The parties have taken place all over the borough. Carroll Gardens will be the next stop on the Chamber’s tour of Brooklyn.
Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, an organization representing some 300 store owners on the Bay Ridge commercial thoroughfare, said he was pleased the Chamber came to his neighborhood. “I think it [shows] recognition of the vitality of Bay Ridge and the strength of avenues like Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue,” said Howe, a lawyer. Like its counterpart on Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue boasts hundreds of shops and restaurants.
Brian Chin, vice president of Northfield Bank and an officer of the Merchants, agreed with Howe. The Chamber’s visit to Bay Ridge “is good for Third Avenue,” he said. “It brings Third Avenue to the attention of Brooklyn and it’s good for our local business.”
Kevin Berntsen, vice president of Admiral Insurance Brokerage Corp, at 6833 Shore Road, said he loves doing business in Bay Ridge. “We moved here three years ago from Bergen Beach. This is a great neighborhood to do business in. Also, it’s closer to Manhattan,” he said.
Another Bay Ridge fan is Anthony P. Scali, a lawyer who joined a buddy from Xaverian High School, William Gillen, in starting a law firm, Gillen & Scali, PLLC. The firm, which they founded three years ago, has its offices at 9201 Fourth Ave. “Bay Ridge is great. We love it,” he said.
Chamber members also took advantage of the opportunity to promote their businesses more directly at the party. Jamil Al-Chokhachi, a member of the promotional staff of Car2Go, was stationed near the Pearl Room’s entrance with a spinning wheel and a large poster with the company’s logo, eagerly answering questions about the car rental firm.
What distinguishes Car2Go from other car rental places is that customers don’t have to return to the point of origin to return the car, Al-Chokhachi said. “Say you pick up a car in Greenpoint and drive it to Bay Ridge and you have no intention of returning to Greenpoint. You can leave the car in Bay Ridge, as long as you leave it in a legal parking space,” he told the Eagle.
Scissura was pleased with the turnout Wednesday. He’s also pleased with the fact that the Chamber is growing by leaps and bounds, he said. “When I came aboard two years ago, we had 750 members. Now we have over 2,000 members,” he said.