Queens Chamber of Commerce selects new executive director

Photo by Stephen Vrattos

New Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Grech felt like a certain Mets rookie pitcher in making his debut Tuesday.

“I hope that my rookie season here at the chamber is as good as Steven Matz’s of the Mets… and he’s a lefty, too,” said Grech after being introduced by chamber president Al Pennisi at a small gathering of about 30 chamber members Tuesday evening.

The announcement comes about three months after the sudden death of former Executive Director Jack Friedman in early April.

According to Pennisi, an executive search committee “went through a lot of resumes and conducted a lot of interviews,” before selecting Grech, who has a long, successful career in economic development, as well as being the president of the Alumni Association for Scranton University, where he worked closely with students, and an adjunct professor at the School of Business for SUNY Farmingdale.

A year ago, Grech approached the chamber about forming an energy committee. Working alongside Friedman, the pair established a group of 50 members, which Grech has been instrumental in growing by an additional 20 over the past year.

“We have a unique opportunity here to knock the cover off the ball,” Grech said, referring to the borough’s recent surge in popularity. “I want to make Queens rock.”

Grech further promised to make Queens the go-to place for businesses: “I’m not saying I’ll double the membership in a year, but I want to go out there in the next few months and tap on every single shoulder. If you do business in Queens, I want you in on this thing. The chamber needs to be a capitalistic tool.”

To that end, Grech told the members he expected them to do their part, but he also understood that the chamber would have to deliver in turn, helping members build business by virtue of their participation in the organization.

Grech also stressed the need for diversity in the chamber, noting the predominately white membership: “This is not Queens.”

“Diversity is very important,” Grech continued. “The future of Queens… the future of the East Coast depends on diversity. I want to go out and ask [diverse businesses] what they want.”

President Pennisi summed up Grech’s appointment best: “I know that if Jack were still here today, he would have chosen Tom Grech.”