Supporting Our Town, Our Business Owners, Our Community
By Deborah Raider Notis
It’s the start of an exciting era in the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is adding several new members to create a larger, more diverse Board. And as of January 1st this year, Dawn Dankner-Rosen became the new Chamber head. With Dankner-Rosen at the helm and fresh blood on the Chamber Board, the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce is determined to revitalize existing business in both downtown Chappaqua and Millwood and to encourage new businesses to invest in Chappaqua and Millwood.
“We are here to encourage people to shop local,” says Dankner-Rosen, who has worked in public relations for more than 25 years. She started at the Kinney Shoe Corporation before opening her own firm, DDR, in 1989. Dankner-Rosen represents an impressive array of non-profit and corporate clients and knows a lot about elevating a business’s public profile. “Dawn is a great public relations person,” notes Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein, who is delighted to collaborate with Dankner-Rosen. “She will help the Chamber and various merchants with marketing and media exposure.” Dankner-Rosen plans to develop media opportunities to highlight the town and to encourage potential business owners and restaurateurs to open up shops in Chappaqua and Millwood. With the spotlight on our area, business owners will become better acquainted with our charming surroundings.
A long-time Chappaqua resident with three boys who graduated from Greeley and a daughter in sixth grade at Seven Bridges Middle School, Dankner-Rosen is extremely invested in this community’s success. Over the years, she was actively involved on the school level, helping out as a class parent. As her children got older, Dankner-Rosen looked for other ways to contribute to our community. She realized that she was most focused on helping the town prosper. For the past two years, Dankner-Rosen’s firm, DDR, was in charge of public relations for the Chappaqua Children’s Book Fair. After several conversations with former Chamber Executive Director Solveig McShea over the past year, Dankner-Rosen realized that heading the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce was the obvious next step for her as she continues to make vital contributions to our town.
Dankner-Rosen knows that this is a tricky time for the Chamber, which has significant work to do to improve and enhance economic and business development of Chappaqua and Millwood businesses. Right now, gaining momentum will be key for the Chamber’s board. Recently, long-time retailers Auntie Penny and Marmalade announced that they would close their doors in January. This leaves two empty stores on the same block in downtown Chappaqua. Town Supervisor Greenstein understands that we need some innovative ideas to foster business in Chappaqua and Millwood. “We all need to look at other towns to see what works, and what doesn’t work. We all need to explore, research, and discuss various options.” Dankner-Rosen, who has worked on countless repositioning campaigns, targeted media relations campaigns, and special events campaigns, is optimistic about leveraging her experience to successfully overcome the various challenges that the Chamber faces.
“We have an extremely spirited, thoughtful and intelligent community…who care deeply about where and how they live. This level of commitment and motivation is golden –and will be the foundation of a very prosperous and thriving downtown community,” notes Dankner-Rosen. Building on that level of commitment, she wants to develop networking programs so that the community as a whole can generate ideas to expand business and to increase awareness about our thriving community. She also thinks that the Chamber needs to hold educational and informational sessions for business owners to help them boost their presence within the community.
But first, she wants to work with the Chamber to define its mission and develop some initial strategies to create excitement about the Chappaqua-Millwood business districts. Dankner-Rosen hopes to foster successful businesses in our area through initiatives that will inform, support, and facilitate connections within our community. She hopes that community members will gain an insight and appreciation of everything Chappaqua and Millwood have to offer. “So many people don’t know really know how much is here for them,” observes Dankner-Rosen.
Another new Board member, Millwood business owner Dominique Simons, agrees that there are many hidden gems in the Chappaqua-Millwood area. “We have a whole plaza of vibrant businesses in Millwood. We need to infuse energy into our business owners and community members.” Simons, who owns Head Over Wheels, a luxury salon near Spaccarelli’s Italian Restaurant, believes that Millwood needs to brand itself separately and together with Chappaqua.
Simons comes to the Chamber with new, fresh ideas about how to create a stronger Millwood business center. Right now, she thinks that there is little community feel in Millwood. She wants to spearhead events that will draw people to Millwood and help community members realize that Millwood is an essential, lively part of New Castle. “I want to generate buzz around ‘The Millwood Mile,’ the retail area in Millwood.” Simons strongly supports constructing a sidewalk around Route 100, Route 120, and Station Road to give the area more of an interactive, small town feel. “Ultimately, I want people to have two reasons to shop, build their businesses, and live in this area–Chappaqua and Millwood.”
Dankner-Rosen hopes to build a customer loyalty program to encourage people to shop local, in both Chappaqua and Millwood. “I want people to get excited and to be committed to shopping local. Not simply for their retail needs. We have accountants, attorneys, financial planners, and other exceptional service providers locally. There is no reason to go anyplace else.” She thinks that developing an incentive-based program will draw people into our town.
And she is relying on our business owners to develop stronger ties with our community members, helping both community members and business owners to feel a greater level of investment in our town.
All of these groundbreaking ideas were on the table when the new Chamber Board held their first meeting on January 22nd. “I am optimistic and excited about helping to create a Chamber of Commerce here that will be significant and can make a real and important difference for businesses individually and for the community at large,” states Dankner-Rosen. Simons concurs, noting that she is particularly excited to work with all of the Chamber’s board members. “The Board is really diverse, and everyone has so many different ideas. This means more dedicated people getting out there and spreading the word about Chappaqua and Millwood.” Sounds like a true merging of minds and talents, which will hopefully result in two bustling town centers.
Deborah Raider Notis is a freelance writer and co-owner of gamechanger, LLC. She lives in Pleasantville with her husband and their four boys, but she shops in Chappaqua and Millwood.
Mark your calendars for our first-ever
“A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD” on Saturday, April 11, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Families will meet town officials, first responders, shop keepers and other neighbors on this self-guided tour of downtown Chappaqua. Fun stops, special treats and an art project are on the schedule. Who are the people in your neighborhood? Come and find out. More details and pre-registration info to be announced soon.