The Examiner

New Name, Mission for Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce

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The officers from the reconfigured Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce. Pictured, left to right, are President Mike Dinardo, Treasurer Sharon Spina, Secretary Aimee Nichols and Vice President Pasquale Palumbo.

It wasn’t long ago that the chamber of commerce in Mount Pleasant was a floundering organization.

Formed in the 1980s, membership and interest in what had been known as the Thornwood-Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce had declined over the years.

“New businesses that came into town didn’t know there was a chamber of commerce because it wasn’t really active,” said current President Mike Dinardo.

But since 2014, enthusiasm and membership has been on the upswing, with the chamber having become a positive force in town, said Aimee Nichols, the organization’s secretary.

That was when the chamber was asked to co-sponsor the inaugural Mount Pleasant Day with the Hawthorne Fire Department, a street fair and car show held in August. Nichols said 22 businesses attended the inaugural Mount Pleasant Day. By last year that number had more than doubled to 48.

“This event (in 2014) was definitely a turning point for the chamber and the spark that reignited interest from our local businesses,” Nichols said.

Since then, there have been additional changes as chamber leadership has sought a greater presence for its members and the community. Chamber membership listed on the organization’s website stands at 103 businesses, up from 70, although that number is likely to rise by the time membership closes for this year, Nichols said.

The first full board of directors was elected in 2015, she said. The entire organization was restructured and all programs were reviewed to see what worked for its members.

The latest in its transformation came about three weeks ago when the organization’s name was officially changed to the Town of Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce. It was a move that had been talked about among leadership because ignoring Valhalla in its name didn’t make sense.

“We tried to encompass the rest of the town,” Dinardo said “We didn’t want to identify just with Thornwood and Hawthorne.”

Nichols said that over the past three years the chamber has created a new website, established a social media presence, expanded its scholarship program to the Valhalla School District and launched Lunch and Learn programs, networking sessions that have focused on various topics that merchants might find useful.

The group has changed its Red Book business directory to a publication that has the motto “Shop Local! Enjoy Local!” It is distributed in high-traffic locations in town and at various town functions, including Mount Pleasant Day, Nichols said.

The chamber schedules its networking meetings at member businesses on a quarterly basis. The most recent was held at EF Academy and attracted 35 people. Three years ago, it wasn’t surprising to see representatives from only one or two businesses attend.

“(The meetings are) a good way for businesses to learn about everybody else in town,” said chamber Vice President Pasquale Palumbo.

Nichols said the chamber has created a ribbon-cutting program celebrating an opening or reopening of a business. It is free for members. It also provides an excellent opportunity for a new business in town to introduce themselves to the community, she said.

Three ribbon cuttings have been held since the program began last September.

Palumbo said the chamber is also considering holding informational forums for its members to address a variety of topics, from how to manage expenses to the best ways to expand.

This year’s Mount Pleasant Day is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 20. It will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. on Elwood Avenue between Cross and Commerce streets.

For more information about the Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce, call 914-359-4166, send an e-mail to or visit




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