Full-speed ahead only gear for Chamber’s Konicki

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. More

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Full-speed ahead only gear for Chamber’s Konicki

PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
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. Seeing everything is just so.

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 6/2/14

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.

All Chamber programs 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 embraces change – and admittedly often initiates it – to keep businesses, residents and visitors interested and to invigorate the local economy.

“You can’t be married to one program or event,” said Konicki. Still, she says 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.”

Konicki came to the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber early in her career, after three years at the Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce. Her first work experience in Hartford, just out of college, got her in the habit of thinking big, with 3,500 members in the Hartford Chamber.

So when she arrived in Westerly, her first goal was to grow the Chamber’s roster of 450 members and get it on solid financial footing for long-term growth.

“We needed to find new sources of revenue, so we launched a massive membership drive. The result was 123 new members in one day, increasing over the years to the current membership of 870.

A former board member of the Chamber, Barbara Stillman, who owns the Atlantic Beach Casino Resort in Westerly, said in nominating Konicki for a Providence Business News leadership award: “She took this organization from a small-town Chamber to a dynamic regional business organization with an outstanding reputation.”

Konicki has an expansive view of what builds a healthy economy and a vibrant community, and considers a wide variety of projects for the organization.

Konicki views her two-state Chamber – in Rhode Island and Connecticut – as an advantage, not separated but joined by a river.

“It’s two states, one state of mind,” said Konicki. “We make sure the visitors to our community don’t realize there’s a border.”

Thriving on collaboration, Konicki is nourished by relationships she’s developed in both states.

“My Westerly magazines are on display in the Mystic, Conn., Chamber,” said Konicki. “We have a bus tour where the first four hours are at the Mystic attractions and the same bus comes to Westerly for lunch and a tour.”

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