2012-03-08 / Front Page

John McCauley named to Chamber of Commerce’s top post

Retired banker will take over for Arlene Petit as executive director

JOHN MCCAULEY JOHN MCCAULEY John McCauley has been named the new executive director of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce. He will take over for Arlene Petit who served in the role for the last two years.

“She did a great job setting everything up so that it was organized for me,” McCauley said.

McCauley was born and raised in the New York City area, and he attended Ithaca College in upstate New York. After graduation he moved to Southern California where he lived for 34 years.

While living in San Diego, Mc- Cauley met his wife, who is a Jamestown native. After having a vacation home on the island for a number of years, the couple decided to move back to Jamestown in 2003. The McCauleys have two children.

During his time in California, McCauley worked as a banking executive. He ran operations for small banks with 10 branches or less. His expertise is in finance, marketing and sales. After retiring from the banking industry, Mc- Cauley did some work in real estate before retiring altogether.

“I fully retired two years ago with the idea of doing something part time,” McCauley said. “This came up and it looked like a good fit. I know the community, I know the chamber, and I think I have the background and the expertise to fill the position. I applied for it and it turned out well for everybody. I’m happy about that.”

McCauley is the only paid employee of the chamber. “Basically if someone wants to talk to someone in the chamber or send an email for information, I’m the person for that,” he said. Mc- Cauley helps to plan the monthly – and sometimes twice monthly – chamber meetings. He also helps to organize the board of directors, which is made up completely of volunteers.

In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, McCauley has been active in community organizations like the Red Cross and the Jamestown Community Chorus.

The Jamestown Village Business Association was started more than 20 years ago. One of the founders of the organization was Tim Baker, owner of Baker’s Pharmacy. About 12 years ago the organization became the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the chamber is to serve local businesses.

McCauley addressed the state of local businesses during these diffi- cult economic times. “For the most part, the businesses in Jamestown are surviving,” he said. “Some of the retail businesses have certainly seen a softening, but they’re hanging in there.”

McCauley cited a recent study that used figures from the Census that indicated that the number of businesses in Jamestown has increased, a statistic that he thinks has a lot to do with the growth of one type of business in particular.

“I think the increase was primarily because of people doing homebased businesses, which may be indicative of them losing their regular job and working out of the house,” McCauley said. “But I don’t have any statistics on that.”

One of Jamestown’s leading industries is the restaurant business. Local restaurant owners, and restaurant owners across the state, have voiced vehement opposition to the governor’s proposed increase on the sales tax for prepared food and beverages. Several restaurants in town have begun displaying table tents and petitions in opposition to the proposed tax hike.

McCauley stressed that there has been no formal discussion of the issue among the board of directors, and that the chamber has not taken a position on the increase thus far. “But certainly for something like that, I would be surprised if we didn’t support the restaurant owners,” he said.

The arrival in the area of the America’s Cup World Series and the Ocean State Tall Ships Festival is expected to bring increased business to the town. McCauley hopes that the chamber can be instrumental in making the most of the expected influx of visitors by organizing local businesses in preparation for the events. He acknowledges that many businesses are already prepared.

“A lot them have been through this before, and they know how it works and what to do, like stock up on beer and extra food, and get ready for the onslaught,” Mc- Cauley said. “Summer here is the prime retail time for Narragansett Avenue. The special events will bring more business than normal.”

The Chamber of Commerce is currently planning its annual fundraiser to follow up the great success of last year’s event, which took place at the Jamestown Community Farm. “It’s always a fun event,” McCauley said. “We raise money for one of the community organizations.”

On Thursday, March 15, the chamber is supporting an open house at Balance Sports & Fitness. The chamber’s annual meeting will take place just five days later at Jamestown Fish. The event is open to all members. The next morning there will be a breakfast meeting at the Narragansett Café.

“We’ve got a hard working board,” McCauley said. “They do a great job, they’re committed. They want to support the businesses. The want to do what they can for our little piece of paradise here.”

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