Vincent Virga, president of Partnership Financial Services, was named two weeks ago as the new president of the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce, succeeding Matt Dorans.
Dorans served as president since early 2007, and Virga credits him with modernizing the chamber, beginning the development of a new Web site, establishing a program of “meet and greets,” and establishing a charity partnership.
“We have to thank Matt’s dedication,” said Virga. “I’m flattered and humbled that he and the board have the faith and trust in me to become president. Matt did an incredible job advancing the chamber. He worked very hard, and he will continue to work with us. He said he would continue to support the chamber.”
“We need to adapt in order to thrive in these challenging times.” – Vincent Virga
“We need to adapt in order to thrive in these challenging times,” he said.
The economic downturn makes the chamber an even more essential tool for the business community, Virga said, helping to set the direction for businesses and offering guidance for its members.
“One of the ideas going forward in 2012 is a Bayonne business summit,” he said. “Perhaps, this is something we can even do on a quarterly basis. It is something that can bring together Bayonne businesses and bring in a panel of professionals that can help businesses weather the storm – how to survive, how to succeed. This would help educated people and provide expertise.”
This would include the basics on business, such as developing a business plan and how to evaluate what are the acceptable risks.
“We have a lot of local talent and some of the finest financial institutions and attorneys we can draw on,” he said. “Many of these people have solid business backgrounds.”
A properly developed business plan, he said, would allow a prospective business owner to determine who the competition is, what the local market needs, and how to target an audience.
“These are things every business needs,” he said, “and it allows a business owner to think ahead. Ideas are nice, but they are often not enough.”
He said the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce can be helpful in a number of ways, and he would like to see it become more involved in the business community and serve its traditional role as an advocate for business.
Virga opened his business – Partnership Financial Services – in May 2009 and said that he has made slow but steady progress even in the current economy.
“My mantra has always been slow and steady,” he said. “The old story about the tortoise and the hare always ends the same way. That’s the way I go about my business and how I am as a person. I tend to be structured and old fashioned in some ways.”
Often, however, people need to ask for advice, and he believes that this is another role for the chamber.
Continuing the work
He said he intends to continue the work Dorans started, such as the continued development of the Web site, meet and greets, and charity events.
“We need to continue the business card exchanges,” he said. “It is an important component in allowing people to introduce themselves and network. I also believe the chamber is going in the right direction with its charity events.”
Recruitment is always part of the chamber’s agenda, and he said the chamber has made good headway at the Bayonne Crossing Mall, pointing to new members such as the owners of Sonic.
“In my heart of hearts, I believe there is a place in this community for Bayonne Crossing and the Broadway shopping district,” he said. “The development of the mall and other businesses on Route 440 does not have to have a negative impact on Broadway. I think there is a need for both. But I also think that businesses needed to adapt to changing times. It may be necessary to revamp the old business models.”
In this regard, the chamber can also help, he said.
One thing he would like to see is a citywide effort for promoting businesses, rather than have three or four business districts competing against each other.
“One of my goals is to create a Bayonne merchants’ association, one for the whole town so that we can all work together,” he said.
Virga is taking over just as the chamber is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The chamber was founded in 1912, and he said he expects the chamber to hold a celebration some time in March.
He said he expects the chamber will also receive support from the city, and said Mayor Mark Smith has been very supportive already.
“My goal is to advance Bayonne as a vibrant community to live and do business in,” Virga said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.