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Rhode Island’s PowerPlayer: John Gregory

Monday, January 28, 2013


Every Monday, GoLocalProv.com shines the spotlight on one individual who you may not know that is making a large impact on Rhode Island. This week, we sat down with John Gregory, the President of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.

You’re the President of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce. How is your organization impacting the state?

In addition to advocacy efforts to create a better economic climate on behalf of our chamber, we also oversee a chamber coalition that includes the Central, Greater Cranston, East Bay, East Greenwich, East Providence, Newport, North Central, North Kingstown, Southern RI and Westerly-Pawcatuck Chambers of Commerce.
So through the coalition our efforts are pretty much statewide.

Rhode Island is still in the midst of an economic recovery from a very difficult, years-long recession. What has been the biggest challenge for you and your organization during this time?

Staying positive and helping chamber members and the business community at large. Like everyone else I have seen businesses shut down and have had friends lose jobs. That’s why the focus on economic development is so exciting. A strong economic climate that keeps existing businesses here, while attracting new businesses, will benefit all Rhode Islanders and can be “the rising tide that lifts all boats.”

How is your organization helping local businesses get or stay on their feet during this tough time?

Working with others to promote educational opportunities and producing networking events. In addition we, like many others encourage our members to buy local and also produce a monthly Cash Mob. Working with our partners from the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance each month we “mob” two businesses, a retailer and a restaurant. We ask each participant (normally between 50 to 80 people) to spend $20 at each store. The results have been phenomenal. In 45 minutes each mobbed store usually generates between $1,500 and $2,000 in sales.

Take us through a day in your life.

Which day? No two are alike. Each day starts with reading newspapers and on line sites. Then it could be a meeting with a member to discuss a particular issue or working with others on policy issues that impact the local regional and state economy. As a regional chamber we represent nine communities from Burrillville through Pawtucket. So we are a microcosm of the state as we work in three urban centers and six suburban communities.

Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I have been a chamber executive for 28 years, but in the past among other jobs I had I was a DJ. In fact for those with "long ago" memories, at one time I used to DJ at “Cahoots” at the Providence Marriott.

Quick Hitters

Role Model:

My late Mom and Dad. The values they taught me are all I needed to know.

Favorite Restaurant:

All that are Chamber members. This gives me a great diversity of cuisines to choose from.

Best Beach:

Beaver tail. Love sitting listening to the ocean and catching a sunset

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year:

“11/22/63” by Stephen King and “So What” by Mark Magnacca

Advice for the Next John Gregory:

Remember that high tech will never replace high touch. People like to do business with those they have built a trusting relationship with.



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