Chamber discusses possible merger


Marketing, membership, merger: Those were the major items discussed when the North Central Chamber of Commerce held its annual Board of Directors meeting at The Village at Waterman Lake.

The NCCC’s slate of officers for 2013 was also presented to the current board and a vote was taken to accept the new list of those people who will govern the non-profit organization during the next year.

Randy Russo, the community relations director for The Village at Waterman Lake, heads the group as chairman of the board, while Tony Spremulli of AccuTrust Mortgage is first vice chair.

The other officers are: Donna Sebastianelli, John E. Fogarty Center, secretary; Robert Vellucci, Navigant Credit Union, interim treasurer; David Blanchette, Rhode Island College, director; Ann-Mary Currier, theCurrier, Words and Events; Frank Ferri, Town Hall Lanes, director; Gina Fugure, Johnston Sun Rise, director; Frank Manni, Frank J. Manni, Esq., director; Kimberly Moore, The Bulfinch Group, director; Amy O’Neil, Bank RI, director; Elisa Pollard, Pollard, Law, LLC, director; Dorothy Swain, Greenville Library, director; Anthony Ursillo, Johnston Historical Society, director; and Deborah Ramos, president.

Ferri, who is a Warwick state representative and owns Town Hall Lanes on Atwood Avenue, and O’Neill, who lives in Smithfield, are the only two newcomers on the 2013 Board of Directors.

The NCCC Board of Directors, as one of its new duties, was asked to become more involved on various committees for the Chamber and its events like the Ambassadors, Apple Festival, Annual Awards Dinner and Golf Tournament, Budget, Finance, By-Laws and Nominating committees.

“We’re also extending an invitation to all our members to actually join the different committees and become more involved in their operations,” Ramos said.

The group later discussed the Board of Directors’ Annual Retreat.

“This is a half-day meeting/workshop to develop the goals of the North Central Chamber of Commerce,” Ramos explained. “While we haven’t set a date, the day and time will be important for the Board and Chamber in general.”

Marketing the non-profit Chamber can be challenging, especially in tough economic times. As membership is what keeps groups like the NCCC alive, there was some unofficial talk of a merger, however, no other area chamber of commerce was mentioned.

“It’s certainly worth talking about and looking into,” said Russo.

Richard Iannitelli, who owns Richard Iannitelli Insurance in Greenville, wouldn’t be surprised if the Chamber went the merger route.

“We’ve discussed a merger in the past but it didn’t go anywhere. We were supposedly all set for a merger [with the Cranston Chamber of Commerce]. We kind of came close, but a new president came in and the deal was never sealed,” he said.

Ramos, who confirmed she’s “pro-merger” said that no official talks have been held with either the Cranston Chamber of Commerce or the neighboring Northern Rhode Island Chamber regarding such a move.

Russo, who served as host and bartender after the Board of Directors meeting, added that he isn’t opposed to the concept.

“A merger sounds interesting. It widens the Chamber’s scope for membership and different programs. But there have been no official talks with any chamber as yet,” he said.

Stephen Boyle, president of the Cranston Chamber, is open to discussion.

“Economically, it makes sense. Basically, we’re very similar in size. It makes sense in a lot of ways and you can accomplish so much more. It’s especially difficult to do a number of things with such a small staff,” he said.

Boyle, a one-time insurance executive with All-State, added that the larger size of a combined chamber could make them more attractive for memberships and corporate sponsorships.

“It makes a lot of sense to get it cranked back up again,” he said.

The North Central Chamber of Commerce, which services the towns of Johnston, North Providence, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster and Glocester, has 218 members. The Cranston Chamber of Commerce has approximately 300 members.

The Northern Rhode Island Chamber that encompasses the communities of Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln, Pawtucket, Smithfield, North Smithfield and Woonsocket reportedly has a membership base between 600 and 700 members.


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