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On April 11, 2022, the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce welcomed Peter Burke as its new executive director. We spoke with Peter about his connections to the island, his work in business development and what’s in store for the summer on Nantucket.
Congratulations on your new role as executive director of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce. Tell us about your background and how you came to this position?
Thank you very much. If I had to summarize my background, I would say it includes practical, hands-on work experience, wrapped up in a blanket of teamwork. I was brought to Nantucket by a cousin who had a line on a job as a delivery driver out here. That kicked off an incredible 14-year experience working in various roles for Cisco Brewers on and off island, most recently operating Cisco Brewers Portsmouth. Developing and working on high-functioning teams, spanning from bartending to wholesaler management, brought me a lot of joy, and the work here at the Chamber has a lot of similarities.
Nantucket is full of incredibly talented, smart, ambitious and creative people, and having the opportunity to rejoin this community is very exciting.
How does the Chamber support local businesses, especially those involved in hospitality and tourism?
I think we’re best known for the marquee celebrations that bookend our year, Daffodil Festival Weekend in the Spring and Nantucket Noel in the Winter, culminating with Christmas Stroll in December.
However, when you look at the incredible work the Chamber did during the pandemic, including issuing mini-grants to businesses, being a single source for CDC guidelines and PPP information, and promoting adapted business models many of our members pivoted to, it raised the Chamber’s visibility to match the multi-faceted resource that it always has been.
Additionally, the Annual Guidebook in its printed and digital form, as well as our digital visit widget, are used by tens of thousands of visitors as a starting point for their individual Nantucket experiences.
Being an island 30 miles off the mainland, what is atop of the Nantucket challenges this summer.
Right now, I would say businesses have had the biggest struggle staffing, and more specifically finding employees with housing. The citizens of the town passed many measures aimed at addressing this issue at the Annual Town Meeting in April, and we’re doing our best to support all of the solutions to this very complex issue.
With 9,000 acres of conservation land, 35 miles of bike paths and public beaches and shorelines, Nantucket’s natural beauty is a main attraction for visitors. How do you protect your natural environment while sharing these assets with visitors?
This is a really important initiative for us, as we believe the most effective way to keep Nantucket’s natural beauty intact is by active participation and stewardship by 100% of the population, both local and visitors alike. While there are great policies and regulations ranging from single-use plastic bans to a heightened enforcement of unsecured loads on trucks (aimed at litter flying out of the back of trucks), we are imploring everyone to do their part by cleaning up any trash they generate and picking up any other trash they find.
What’s the best way for a first-time visitor to get acclimated to the island this summer?
The Nantucket 2022-2023 Official Guide is a great starting point. I always recommend making ferry and lodging reservations as early as possible, get inspired by a few selections, and if you know you are looking for a specific restaurant or show, call ahead for tables or tickets. Beyond that, I encourage visitors to stay flexible and open minded.
Also, keep an eye on the Chamber website as our calendar is being updated daily with fun activities for all interests. Lastly, some of my favorite days on Nantucket started with no plan at all. Don’t underestimate the simplicity of jumping in the ocean and seeing where the day goes.