That’s an inquiry a lot of business owners would love to hear from elected officials. But for former businessman and Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, asking such a question is routine.
It’s just one part of a larger outreach effort aimed at city businesses that has seen him host a weekly radio show, visit workplaces, spur the ongoing creation of a City Hall guidebook to streamline permitting and convene monthly summits for business, with about six regular attendees so far.
“We hear constantly from business that the only time they hear from the city is when we need something,” said Grebien, who hopes to turn around that impression by reaching out to commercial concerns on a regular basis. “Everyone wants new business but the reality is, how do you build a relationship with a business? What can you do to support them?”
Grebien was elected mayor of this city of approximately 72,000 people in November 2010 with 63.5 percent of the vote. He worked for American Insulated Wire in Mansfield from 1994 until his election, employed most recently as corporate transportation supply-chain manager.
Affable and easily approachable, the lifelong city resident served five terms on the Pawtucket City Council from 1997 to 2008 and was council president 2005 to 2007.
On a recent Friday, Grebien posed the key question – “how can we help you?” – to two restaurant owners, Jack Doherty and Brandon Harnois, during the taping of his weekly radio show, “The Mayor’s Corner,” on station WBZS 550-AM located in the Concord Street Business Park off Smithfield Avenue in Pawtucket.
The half-hour show, hosted by Diana Ricci of WBZS, is taped every Friday for airing Monday at 9 a.m. as part of the “Rhode Island Matters” program on the business station that also features Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal news. The mayor and his staff choose the guests and topics to be discussed. Prior taping does not allow for call-in questions.
The two restaurant owners appeared on the mayor’s third show; guests on previous shows included Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, and Bob Billington, president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, also in Pawtucket.