Smith, who graduated from Marist College with a business degree, has taken the reigns as president at the New Paltz Chamber of Commerce. Smith’s first official day began on Jan. 1 and with the help of the former president, Joyce Minard, the transition has been relatively easy.
“Joyce has been a great help. I try to remain transparent as much as possible, stay connected with all the wonderful people of the community, and keep current on policy making issues,” said Smith.
Smith is no stranger to the chamber of commerce. He is entering the position with a wealth of experience and knowledge that he gained while participating as a chamber board member in Orange County for approximately 30 years.
Smith was born in the Bronx, but has resided in Newburgh for about 50 years. His wife and two children frequently visited the New Paltz area to explore both the outdoor sites like the Shawangunks, as well as the indoor attractions of the shops and restaurants. He has always loved the area and was excited to hear about the open position at the chamber.
Smith’s first priority upon entering this position was to get to know the citizens, the staff and policy makers, and discover what their suggestions were on how to improve the New Paltz area. This aspect of the job is also his favorite.
“There are 14,000 residents within New Paltz and everybody is different. They all have a different background. I want to get to know as many of these residents and business owners as I can,” said Smith.
Despite all of Smith’s experiences and accomplishments thus far, he still has concerns that he plans on addressing.
“The biggest challenge is uncertainty”, said Smith. “Uncertainty regarding taxes, jobs, healthcare, etc. Yet we are addressing these things through our newsletter and by hosting events. Communication is key.”
However, he is not hindered by the pressures of his new employment as president.
“I accept it for what it is and focus on solutions. There is going to be pressure in any job situation. Different people have their own agendas and sometimes their opinions clash with yours. I just take it one day at a time,” Smith said.
Some of his major goals that will remain on his notepad for the long-term include increasing membership, providing more job opportunities, attracting new businesses, and drawing in more tourists. After only two months on the job, membership at the Chamber has already seen a slight increase. Organization for The Taste of New Paltz Festival is already underway, and numerous other events for the summer months are in place to raise money for local business and entice a crowd. Smith compared New Paltz to a microcosm of New York City with its vast array of tourist attractions, and therefore he hopes to draw in both new and returning guests each year.