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Chamber Targets Route 347 Businesses for Membership [347 Stories]

Chamber of Commerce hopes to recruit new members along the Route 347 corridor.

For the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, which already has a foothold among both large and small businesses in town, Route 347 is the next frontier.

December marked the third month a small group of chamber members has been trying to expand the chamber's membership to include the businesses along the Route 347 corridor – but it hasn't been easy, they say.

"Some businesses do show an interest, but it's a work in progress," said Karen Erickson, branch manager of and a self-described "eager member" of the Chamber of Commerce.

Erickson has found that while a number of new businesses have popped up recently, they can't always leave their stores to attend chamber meetings.

"Especially this time of year, they need to be at their businesses," she said. "I think it's definitely an important thing for the chamber to recruit these businesses. The good thing is that there are new businesses moving in."

Misook Kim, owner of newly opened and soon-to-be-open restaurant Ssambap Korean BBQ, said in an interview Tuesday she has not yet joined the Chamber of Commerce because she doesn't really know what it is.

"This is my first business in this area," she said. "We'll look into it. I don't know what it entails."

Erickson has been handling the Stony Brook section of Route 347, while Julie Watterson, owner of on Route 347, has been handling the Setauket end of things.

"We're just trying to get people involved down here," Watterson said. "We're always the 'forgotten child.'"

Watterson has seen firsthand the benefits of joining the chamber after she opened SNAP Fitness in March. New businesses that don't often have the means to advertise right away, she said, are able to get in front of people and network.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce has over 200 local members, including Walmart and BJ's Wholesale Club, both large retailers located on Route 347. Representatives of some of those large stores, including and , could not comment or be reached for comment.

Among other Nesconset Highway businesses that are chamber members is , which falls under the umbrella of the Intercontinental Hotels Group but which is individually owned by a Three Village resident. It is also a member of a total of five other local chambers of commerce.

"The hotel allocates money for local chamber memberships and participates in many local community activities," Lenore Paprocky, director of sales for the Holiday Inn Express, said in an email to Patch.

The Chamber of Commerce has launched a series of daytime "coffee breaks," a brief, once-a-month meeting designed to attract business owners along the Route 347 corridor. Watterson said about 10 people attended in October, and about 15 people attended in November. The next coffee break event is set for Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. at .

"Nesconset Highway is the cutting edge of business development for the Three Village area," the chamber's executive director, David Woods, wrote in a recent email.

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