A quick lesson on transferring leadership and a thank you


President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

Late July of 2020 I provided one year notice to the Chamber of Commerce Board that I planned to transition out of my role as President/CEO. During my career, I have found that even the most well thought out timelines and action plans do not always go exactly as laid out. Some work gets delayed, some expedited, and there are often curves and challenges along the path that call for redirection. But there are times when the ‘stars and the planets align’ and things fall into place and the work gets done as planned. In the case of the Chamber, our transfer of leadership went as planned. It was on time and produced an exceptional outcome. To the credit of the board of directors and the team, we put a succession plan in place a few years ago and the Executive Committee executed the plan along with the support of RA Koerner & Associates who assisted us through our process. So, some practical advice to our member/investors, I recommend taking the time to develop a succession plan if you do not currently have one. It is worth the time invested.

As I noted, we could not be more pleased with the outcome. We had several excellent candidates for the President/CEO job and ultimately the Chamber Board selected Dan Heitzenrater. I have had the pleasure of working with Dan in a variety of settings over several years and you can be assured that the Chamber of Commerce is in good hands. Dan loves Chautauqua County, he works hard, he works smart, and is dedicated. I am excited to see him lead and take the organization to new heights.

As I exit, I say thank you to our members and investors for your support of the mission of the Chamber of Commerce, the hard work you put into your businesses and ultimately being the drivers of our economy. I have been fortunate to not only work with many of you but have developed lasting friendships along the way. To our many partner organizations across the region; things don’t get done unless we all work together, and I have appreciated your partnership with us on this journey.

Thank you as well to our board of directors for supporting me, and sometimes just simply tolerating me. I would note that especially this past year, for about three months we met weekly along with the Manufacturers Association board members to navigate through COVID-19. The board’s guidance and input was extremely helpful at a critical time, as we helped our business community through those challenging days and months.

And one final note of appreciation to the team/staff I have had the pleasure to work with both past and present: I thank you for your dedication and hard work in support of the business community. You have been a wonderful team of people to work with, and for the most part you did a pretty good job of keeping me out of trouble!

I wish our member/investors, partner organizations, the Chamber team and the new “Chamber Dude,” Dan Heitzenrater, only the best in the journey forward!


The Hanover Community Chamber of Commerce will once again hold its annual Silver Creek Yard Sales event on Saturday, July 31. The sales are a fundraiser for the Hanover Community Chamber, assisting them with year-round events including scholarships for graduating high school seniors from the Silver Creek and Forestville School Districts. Residents may sign up to participate for $10 per sale. Registration is open now in person at Silver Creek Optical or online on the Chamber’s calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org. All registrations must be in by Monday, July 26 in order to be included on the map.


The Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce is proud to host the return of Jamestown Cruise-In Friday, August 6! Working in partnership with Der Kobblers Automobile Association, the Chamber of Commerce will host this fun annual event from 5-10pm along Third Street between Washington and Spring Streets. Regional collectors of classic cars, hot rods and special vehicles will display their cars and trucks. The evening will also feature live music and the Babe Ruth World Series Committee will sell hamburgers, hotdogs, and Pepsi products. Downtown businesses are encouraged to offer extended hours and specials for the evening. Jamestown Cruise-In is proudly sponsored by Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric, M & T Bank, and Media One Radio Group. Cars can be pre-registered online through the Chamber’s calendar of events at www.chautauquachamber.org or can register on site. All vehicle registrations are $10. All are invited to stroll through downtown and enjoy this free, fun, family event!


First Friday happens on the first Friday of each month during the summer and the next one is August 6 in the Village of Westfield. These popular events are organized by the Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber of Commerce and create a street fair each month on Main Street in Westfield, featuring live music, kid’s games, wine, food, vendors, and much more. The event runs from 5-8 p.m. All are welcome!


Once again this year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will present its annual Golf Tournament at Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer. The event will begin with a shotgun start at 11am on August 19. Space is limited. Golfers can register online now with early bird pricing through July 29th at www.chamberrsvp.org. The 2021 Chamber Golf Tournament is sponsored by: A Automotive, AES/Empire Solar, Bush Industries, Chautauqua Lake Dental, Chautauqua Patrons Insurance, Community Bank, Dahlstrom Roll Form, DFT Communications, Express Employment Professionals, Graf Realty, Jamestown Container, Jamestown Kitchen & Bath, Jamestown Mattress Company, Koester Associates, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley Insurance, Nestle Purina PetCare, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and Shults Auto Group.


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