Spotlight On: Peter Gallo, President, MRCC (Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce)

Spotlight On: Peter Gallo, President, MRCC (Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce)

2021-12-29T15:51:32-05:00December 29th, 2021|Economy, North & Central Jersey, Spotlight On|

MRCC Peter Gallo

2 min read December 2021 — The Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce recently rebranded itself as MRCC to reflect its wider impact in North Jersey, both geographically and economically. Leveraging flexible communication with impactful resources will be critical to the county’s economic recovery, President Peter Gallo told Invest:. “It will be a pivot but growth will return, especially for those who were able to adjust,” Gallo said. 

What strategies and lessons learned has the Chamber used to grow in the past year?

Like most businesses, we had to pivot. We’ve rebranded to MRCC because we represent 92 communities in multiple counties spanning 2 states and we didn’t want to scare people away who weren’t from Mahwah. We used to have a lot of in-person events but with the pandemic we had to do more small-sized remote events and so networking became more challenging. We have a number of large members, such as M&T Bank, TD Bank and Konica Minolta, but at least half our membership are small local businesses that are really struggling to get by and so we had to cater to both and come up with new events members wanted to attend.

Did you have to use different strategies to reach out to members, and do you see these continuing into the future?

Our communications shifted gears from providing networking opportunities to information dissemination. We became a resource for compiling information so members had it at their fingertips. When businesses applied for a PPP loan, we were sure to promote member banks. Times have changed but we still have to be there for our members to help them grow. A lot of those are smaller organizations.

What challenges and opportunities has MRCC been experiencing?

People are tired of being at home and want to get out. Recently, we had a golf outing to support local organizations and it was our largest outing in years. The challenge is still there to bring back members we’ve lost during the pandemic, to remind them that we’re a valuable resource. We’ve found that a lot of businesses are relocating from New York. If you no longer need the office space or address, moving here is a lot cheaper. Businesses are shifting to a more local mindset than the city can offer and many local businesses have successfully pivoted to embrace more e-commerce. Some businesses had to close down, many more struggled, but others had their most profitable year ever and much depended on how well you could pivot. This may be specific not to an industry but more of a mindset.

Is there any legislation or regulations that you’re following that would affect the chamber or North Jersey?

The governor put in a new law outlawing plastic bags, so that’ll shift how a lot is being done in small retail. This is about sustainability, allowing people to bring their own reusable bags. They’ve given us over a year to plan on it and so some members will capitalize on it as a marketing opportunity. I think we’ll all adapt.

What are the challenges small businesses are facing right now in North Jersey?

Employee shortage is definitely a challenge. Everywhere I look, businesses have help wanted signs. There’s a shift in the mindset of the workforce, whether they want to work from home or make more money or change careers. Construction has had issues with increasing lumber prices earlier in the year. Just getting parts either to provide to customers or service equipment, that was also difficult. But with all the changes, people are more understanding of the delays.

Is the Chamber doing anything to help members with workforce issues?

We want to get members together and share resources. It’s not just about handing out your business card, it’s all that knowledge you can share. We have two active subsets of the Chamber, the Women in Business Initiative (WIBI) and the Young Professionals Network (YPN), who have the opportunity to network and to learn from like-minded people going through their own trials and tribulations at any level of experience.

What are your priorities going forward?

We want to bring struggling members who’ve left back into the fold and provide existing members new value, such as training and more ways to gather. If chambers of commerce don’t pivot, then people won’t be interested anymore. It’s not your father’s chamber of commerce. We’re young and active and here to help members succeed. It will be a pivot but growth will return, especially for those who were able to adjust. We’re looking for prosperity in these markets. 

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