YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Sergio Esposito doesn’t have time for politics.
Regardless of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce’s political history, the newly elected president said he plans to continue a policy of neutrally put in place by his predecessor, Eric DiBartolo.
“The chamber does not want to be involved politically,” Esposito told Yorktown News. “The chamber is not going to be endorsing anybody in terms of political candidates.”
The chamber will, however, continue to hold political debates centered around business issues, he said.
Esposito touted a talented Board of Directors that includes two former town supervisors: Michael Grace, a Republican, and Aaron Bock, a Democrat. The board also includes business owners, non-profit leaders, and Councilman Tom Diana, a Republican.
“Moving forward, people are going to see an apolitical chamber that’s going to be working diligently with everyone in the town and everyone in the community, regardless of your race, creed, color or your political persuasion to facilitate a better Yorktown for everybody,” Esposito said.
Esposito said the town and the chamber should be working together toward the same goal.
In a conversation with Supervisor Ilan Gilbert, he said, “I expressed our deep concern that the chamber and the town should be able to work together, and the town should be able to harness all the resources that the chamber has to offer to drive businesses back into the town. The supervisor and I are in agreement and we are working on a bunch of different events exploring many opportunities.”
Esposito, though, said he does support a revitalization plan similar to the one pushed by Supervisor Grace during his six-year tenure. That plan involved demolishing the existing highway garage on the corner of Front Street and Underhill Avenue and selling the land to a private developer that would be expected to construct a mixed-use building with public amenities. The highway garage would have been moved to town-owned land on Greenwood Street.
Though it is ultimately a board decision, Supervisor Gilbert has said he does not want to move forward with the project at this time.
“The [Yorktown] Heights downtown area, it’s an odd setup,” Esposito said. “It’s not configured like a small town, Main Street area…The revitalization project I think would be a benefit to the Heights area. Maybe it doesn’t have to be presented or planned or implemented in the same fashion that previous administrations have envisioned, but I think the idea is sound and should be carried forth.”
The chamber presidency is a two-year term and presidents are elected by its members. In the Yorktown chamber’s case, that includes about 350 businesses in the town and the surrounding Northern Westchester region.
Esposito joined the Chamber of Commerce in 2008. He served as vice president under DiBartolo (2015-18). He owns two small businesses: Comprehensive Computers (a computer repair and IT services company in Mamaroneck) and American Arms (a firearms retailer on Commerce Street in Yorktown).
Esposito, an Italian immigrant and first-generation American, moved to Yorktown in 1995. He lives here with his wife, Carole, and three children: Madison, 16, Jack, 14, and Luke, 12. He also coaches his sons’ youth baseball teams.
“I started in the chamber when the economy tanked,” Esposito said. “I felt that I needed to do something more, just to be proactive. I never really thought about joining the chamber before. I didn’t think there were any benefits to doing something like that, but I’ve been proven wrong.”
As president, Esposito said, he would like to “revamp the image” of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re going to be changing our logo. We’re giving the chamber a facelift,” Esposito said. “It’s new and different. Things are changing.”
Esposito said he believes in the philosophy that “all business is social.”
“We’re implementing a set of business socials, which will normally take place in the evening at local restaurants and facilitate businesses meeting one another,” Esposito said.
The chamber will also host four Business Empowerment Seminars per year, focusing on topics like financial and college planning. There will also be Business Power Lunches, where elected officials can hear from the business community.
“It’s not just for chamber members. These events are open to all people,” he said.
Another change for 2019 will be with the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Though he can’t do anything about the frigid or rainy weather that affected the event the last two years, Esposito said he is going to do a smaller ball drop at 9 p.m. so families can celebrate the New Year with their children. A larger ball drop will still be held at midnight. He is also excited to continue the chamber’s other major event: the Street Fair and Festival in October and the SpringFest in March.
For the last three years, Esposito has also helped organize a Kids vs. Cops fund-raiser softball game, which has raised $30,000. The money is used to send kids to Camp Sunshine, a facility in Maine that provides a year-round retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
“Working closely with the police department, which is an asset to this community, we’ve been able to raise that type of money,” Esposito said.
Esposito said it’s the Chamber of Commerce responsibility to recruit businesses to town and show them the best of what Yorktown has to offer: “diverse and strong demographics,” “great public services,” and a “great educational system.”
“What we try to do is we try to facilitate a meeting with the property owner or we try to help them pick out a site that would be appropriate and then we try to guide them through the intricacies of zoning or planning or building,” Esposito said. “We are primarily an advocacy group for the businesses and we will continue to be that.”
He also said the chamber is responsible for promoting its current members. Any new member or member who renews is offered free advertising space on the LED sign in the center of Yorktown Heights.
“The main goal of the chamber is to enhance the business community,” Esposito said. “Focusing on that goal and that goal only is going to be the guiding light in all of our activities.”