October 2021 - Shop In RI

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East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce: The Backbone of the EG Business Community! By Mark Berger Most people will agree that 2021 has been better in many ways more than in the previous year. Much has written and said about the pandemic pertaining to the social and economic consequences it caused. What happened next were stories of people helping people, communities banding together and government agencies and organizations explored ways of keeping their respective cities and towns from being swept away from bankruptcy and closures. One such organization, the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, located on 580 Main St., remains proactive in providing comfort, necessary services and assistance to the business community. Their process enabled area establishments to thrive during a time where the only real certainty was uncertainty. “Chambers around the state and across the country really stepped up and demonstrated how much of an impact they can have in their area,” said EG Chamber Executive Director Stephen Lombardi. “I remember Friday, March 13, 2020 like it was yesterday. I was having dinner at an EG Chamber restaurant and we saw on the television the NBA (National Basketball Association), the NHL (National Hockey League) and other national organizations were shutting down. It wasn't long before places closed down locally. We pivoted as a community as restaurants offered takeout, curbside pickup and delivery options to stay open. Gift cards became another successful endeavor. We did try to connect merchants with customers. “People took this challenge head on and embraced what the town's merchants were doing to remain open.”

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“I truly believe that 2020 was one of the most important years in the 92-year history of East Greenwich Chamber. By and large, that might have been true of all chambers.” As the pandemic raged on last year, the EG Chamber became the face of the area. In association with the Town of East Greenwich and RI Commerce, the EG Chamber provided local business owners with PPE resources such as masks, gloves, sanitizers and other materials for employers, employees and customers to remain safe. SBA (Small Business Association) loans were also another aspect the Chamber staff helped out navigating. It did not matter what the issue or concern was; the EG Chamber worked to ensure that questions were answered as quickly as possible. Lombardi, who has been in his current position since July 2010, said the town has plenty to offer residents and visitors alike. He noted New England Tech opened around the time he began his tenure at the EG Chamber. Lombardi, who was past President of the University of Rhode Island Alumni Association, also noted that URI has also being very involved in providing valuable information to the community. Lombardi said East Greenwich is a small town with plenty to do. This includes: strolling down Main Street and visiting its waterfront, recreational areas, as well as historic buildings and sites. He stressed that there are many businesses all around East Greenwich, not just around Main Street.