FULL COUNT: Lisa Konicki, Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, says that Westerly’s downtown is at the highest occupancy rate that it’s had during her tenure with the Chamber.
PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
By Rhonda J. Miller PBN Staff Writer
Lisa Konicki is going full-speed ahead 17 years into her role as executive director of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce.
She’s on a continuous mission to find innovative ways to improve business and strengthen the community.
“Our core programs have to be balanced between tourism marketing, economic development and special-event production,” said Konicki.
Among the triad of programs, all are laced with her boundless enthusiasm. Konicki is spearheading the development of a new website called Destination Downtown that’s a collaboration among several communities, linking them together as ”Historic. Hip. Happening.”
She gets fully engaged in the summertime event called River Glow, with its floating bonfires, music and fire jugglers.
Challenges to businesses in Rhode Island’s slow-moving economy just nudge her to move to the next level.
“In a sluggish economy, a chamber’s role becomes amplified because businesses are going to rely on you even more,” said Konicki. “You have to be responsive to trends and change gears. Our constituents are our businesses.”
She embraces change – and admittedly often initiates it – to keep businesses, residents and visitors interested and to invigorate the local economy.
“You’re only relevant if you’re addressing the needs of your community at that point in time,” said Konicki. “You can’t be married to one program or event. The community as a whole is very receptive to new ideas.” Konicki said there’s plenty to be proud of, despite the economic challenges facing the nation and the region.
“For us here in Westerly, our downtown is at the highest occupancy rate that it’s had during my entire career with the Chamber,” she said. “We’ve reached a point where our downtown has defined itself as a culinary and artistic destination. We have live music every night of the week.”