Chamber hears from the voice of Main Street

Over the past six weeks, our Chamber team has walked the streets of seven communities in Chautauqua County, including Dunkirk, Fredonia, Hanover, Jamestown, Lakewood, Mayville/Chautauqua and Westfield/Barcelona.

We have had meetings with over 100 small businesses. Our purpose was to hear the voices of our county’s small businesses, understand their challenges and gain perspective on what they see as their opportunities. Our Mornings on Main coffee hours created opportunities for our staff and volunteers to have meaningful engagement with local businesses to better understand how to best align the Chamber of Commerce services and resources with the needs of businesses.

We sincerely appreciate the time that many business owners took out of their busy schedules to spend a few minutes with us. We have many dedicated and hard-working business owners in our county and our hats are off to them for their hard work day in and day out.

We heard what our small businesses had to say and we are committed to doing everything in our power to take action on the issues that matter the most to them. The consistent themes we heard from small businesses across the county was the need for more foot traffic into their establishments with the hope of increased sales. Many small businesses are having challenges finding the workforce they need. Several small business voiced concerns regarding the costs of doing business, specifically worker’s compensation costs. Many communities continue to have store fronts that are available; this was a concern voiced by the small businesses that neighbor these properties. Across the board, these small business owners articulated that they see opportunity and potential within their businesses and their communities.

It is clear that our organizational structure of having viable community chambers is imperative to helping facilitate foot traffic into main street businesses and main street conversations among businesses. We must continue to invest in technology that helps increase the visibility of our members on the internet and through social media platforms. We must continue to reinforce our ‘buy local, ShopTauqua’ message. We must continue to build upon and invest in promotional activities, such as Small Business Saturday, Restaurant Week and National Small Business Week. Importantly, we must continue to drive referrals to our local businesses.

We remain committed to advocating for small business in an effort to reduce the structural costs of doing business. Our journey, which by the way never ends, was enlightening and insightful. Again, we thank our small businesses for their investment in the Chamber of Commerce and the work they do to make our communities even better.


Succession Planning for Family Run Businesses will be the topic for this year’s Business Summit as part of the LECOM Health Challenge Tour. This free Business Summit will be held at 9 a.m., Friday, July 7 at The Retreat Lodge at Peek’n Peak Resort.

Every family-owned business faces two significant challenges: Remaining competitive in a fast-moving global economy and developing a succession plan that keeps the company in the fast lane from one generation to the next. Questions you may have include: does your company have a long-term growth strategy and where do you start when planning one; is there a succession plan for the next generation; or what is the value of your business and how do you transition ownership?

John Koelmel, president of OnCore Golf and former CEO/president of First Niagara Bank and president of HarborCenter, will join family business leaders who have navigated successful transitions to discuss the strategies they have used to build strength and stability in their companies.

This event is presented by The Hite Company of Erie and the speaker panel will include Chairman R. Lee Hite; Bret Blakely, co-founder and vice president of OnCore Golf; Nick Scott Jr., vice president and owner of Scott Enterprises; Leah Weinberg of Weinberg Financial Group; and David Bargar, advisor to the board of Griffin Acquisition Corp.

Business people are encouraged to network over a light breakfast, learn during the summit presentations, and then spend the day watching the LECOM Health Challenge on the beautiful Peek’n Peak Upper Course. Seating is limited to the first 150 participants. Please register by June 29 by calling 661-8901.

You can also purchase tickets to attend the spectacular four-day LECOM Health Challenge and help support the Chamber of Commerce and the programs presented by our community chambers. A single-day pass is just $10, or you can buy a pass to the full four-day tournament for $25. For information or to purchase tickets, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101.



Local golfers can play where the pros play and save, by registering for the Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament by July 10.

Early Bird pricing is in effect now, allowing a savings of $25 per player for this fabulous event on the Upper Course at Peek’n Peak. Enjoy a tremendous day of golf and camaraderie, plus great prize packages and food!

The Annual Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament is Aug. 10 and is sponsored by DFT Communications, Bush Industries, Community Bank, County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Dahlstrom Roll Form, Jamestown Mattress Company, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley Insurance, Lynn Development, National Fuel Gas, National Grid, Nestle Purina PetCare and the Shults Auto Group.

To register or learn more, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101 or visit




The Hanover Community Chamber of Commerce and the village of Silver Creek will sponsor live music for the July 3 fireworks display at Borrello Park.

The band Dark Horse Run will perform southern classic rock. The music will start at 6:30 and run until the fireworks show at dusk. Vendors will be on hand with food and drinks.

Everyone is welcome to attend this great evening of free music and fireworks!