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November 02. 2012 11:26PM

New chamber chief aims to tout downtown

DERRY - As the new full-time executive director of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Stacey Bruzzese said she loves the opportunity to develop new relationships and provide creative results and opportunities for local businesses to grow and network.

Bruzzese began her new position at the chamber on Sept. 1, after working as a direct marketer for the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce and then in a full-time consulting position for a number of small businesses.

"When this position became available, I thought I would apply, because I do love working with the chamber and geographically, it was a good location," said Bruzzese, a Windham resident.

She said her six years of experience in Salem helped her build connections in the state as well as the Greater Derry area.

"There was some overlap and some joint events we did with Derry Londonderry," Bruzzese said. "I did know some people here and the community, and lot of the business people do commingle, although I have met a lot of new folks here, as well."

In her two months in the position, Bruzzese said she has worked with the chamber to create more events and networking opportunities for local businesses.

Derry and Londonderry offer a number of unique challenges and opportunities, she said.

"In Derry, we're trying to add more opportunities for downtown businesses," Bruzzese said. "The big challenge is to help the community know what an asset the downtown is and help the merchants market it so it is a destination spot."

Bruzzese said she believes the smaller, mom-and-pop establishments in the downtown can co-exist with the larger box and chain stores along Manchester Road.

The larger stores can help the town off-set the tax rate and are destinations for many shoppers, but she said many people still want the uniqueness and more personal interactions they can find in smaller stores.

"We're trying to make the downtown more lively and viable as a destination spot, not only for people who live in Derry, but for those who travel through the town," Bruzzese said.

In Londonderry, she said one of the challenges is to bring together businesses because there is not one centralized business zone in the town.

Over the coming year, Bruzzese said the chamber is looking to offer a number of special events and workshops to benefit all local business, not just retail establishments.

Through all its activities and events, Bruzzese said she hopes the chamber acts as a hub for local businesses.

Derry Town Councilor Joel Olbricht said he is excited by Bruzzese's new role with the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce.

"I've known Stacey since she worked in the Salem chamber so she comes to Derry with a lot of good chamber of commerce experience," Olbricht said. "This is all in a very good and positive effort by the chamber to bring in a full-time executive and offer more services and activities for businesses in our area."

aswift@newstote.com



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