By KAITLYN NAPLES
After spending 20 years in the United States Air Force and over 15 years as a hospital administrator, Jim Albert said he is ready to tackle the position of the president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, a post he took on at the beginning of this year.
“There are a lot of opportunities to improve (the chamber) and do great things for the city,” Albert said, adding that he has always focused on being a “big thinker” and is ready to help make Bristol a destination.
Albert said he has always loved Bristol and was born and bred in the city. He is a third generation resident and said he was born at Bristol Hospital and then circled back there later in life to take on an administrative position. He said his background knowledge and skills and practices he has acquired through his past careers allows him to bring experience in business, which is what the Chamber is all about.
Albert has plans to grow the chamber’s membership and inform the business community of all of the benefits the chamber has to offer.
“It is a federation,” he said, adding that the six chambers under the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce share educational forums, seminars, networking events, and much more.
He said his main focus will be to grow the membership through networking and building relationships with businesses in Bristol and in the surrounding areas. He said being a member of the chamber has many perks, including sharing resources and providing a voice to the legislature.
“This is an opportunity for you (business leaders) to get to know other people who can help you make a difference,” Albert said, adding that for businesses to succeed, the community needs to know they are out there. Being a member of the chamber allows for that to happen, as you attend events, volunteer, and participate in networking activities, with other members and have access to contacts in the business community.
“We offer that ability to strengthen the business network in the city,” he added.
Albert said he is also going to be focused on local development and the local economy and added that the goals of the chamber need to be aligned with the goals of the city.
“We need to be more driven and have a more collaborative way to approach issues,” he said, adding that making Bristol a destination is key.
He said there are a lot of treasures in Bristol, many of which are hidden or are not seen as an attraction. However, he said that mindset needs to be changed. He said there are many ideas for the downtown development, or for the future of the old Memorial Boulevard School, but the community needs to come together to decide what they like and don’t like, what will work and won’t work.
He said the city needs to take its assets, like ESPN, the New England Carousel Museum, its educational system, and the American Clock and Watch Museum, and integrate them into boosting the local economy and increasing local development.
“We have a lot of opportunities to put Bristol on the map,” he said, adding that as an example Bristol could be seen once again as a manufacturing hub, especially by focusing on the technical schools and training students who are interested in those industries.
He also said the chamber will continue to be involved in the development of the downtown area and Memorial Boulevard School, which he said he sees as a structure that defines the city.
“We should make that an attraction, make it a living emblem of Bristol,” he said, adding that he “accepts anything that moves us forward into a better light.”
The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce includes five other chambers – Burlington, Wolcott, Plymouth, Farmington and Bloomfield, in addition to Bristol. All of those chambers are independent, however are able to share a variety of resources under the Central Connecticut umbrella.
By KAITLYN NAPLES