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Annual Chamber banquet to be in-person, virtual

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet has become a much-anticipated event over the years. It will be our honor to recognize a number of worthy individuals and organizations this year on October 7 at the Williams Center at SUNY Fredonia as we host a hybrid event this year with options for both in-person and virtual attendance in order to meet the needs of the entire community.

In the interest of public health and safety for all there will be some new protocols implemented. In-person attendance will be limited to just 200 persons, with tables appropriately spaced in the room. Tables will be reserved for up to eight guests. All in-person attendees must certify at online registration that they are vaccinated and will agree to wear a mask indoors (per SUNY requirements) until they are seated for dinner. Because of the health requirements there will be no cocktail hour prior to dinner, but complimentary wine and beer will be provided at each table and a cash bar will be made available in the dining room.

All dinner guests must be pre-registered by September 30. Check-in for the event will begin at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and the program to begin promptly at 7 p.m.

The awards presentations can also be viewed online for those who prefer a remote option. The Zoom Webinar link will be sent to all who register.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will present the Economic Development Award to Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care for both the healthcare services it provides countywide and for its extraordinary efforts during a pandemic to raise funds and expand its programming and jobs through the construction of a first ever local Hospice House.

Two Persons of the Year Awards will be presented. John D’Agostino, editor of The Post-Journal and OBSERVER will receive the award for his active involvement in numerous community organizations over the years. Rochelle Mole, Vice President of Finance and Operations with the National Comedy Center will receive the award for her personal sacrifice and foundational role over the past year to maintain a nationally recognized and locally important institution during a very challenging time.

Each of our six Community Chambers of Commerce will present a Community Service Award. The Dunkirk Community Chamber has selected Kirk Frey who has been actively engaged in the community through his business, Kirk’s Jeweler’s, and through many charitable contributions, for over 40 years. The Fredonia Community Chamber chose Festivals Fredonia – a completely volunteer-run organization responsible for putting on several festivals in the community annually. The Hanover Community Chamber selected Aimee Rogers in recognition of her efforts with Imagine Forestville to both encourage the preservation of history as well as new business development in the hamlet. The Jamestown Community Chamber selected Lou Deppas for his extensive commitments through service to community organizations over many years including the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Jamestown YMCA, and National Comedy Center. The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber chose the Chautauqua Lake Central School District during the direction of Superintendent Dr. Joshua Liddell for providing full-time in-person instruction for 95% of the district’s students during the 2020-2021 school year. The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber is recognizing the Patterson Library Hands, a group of volunteers that works diligently through hands-on maintenance and improvement projects that keep the historic building at its best.

Registration for this event is open online now at www.chamberrsvp.org . If you have questions, please call the Chamber at (716) 366-6200 or (716) 484-1101.

The Chamber Awards Banquet is sponsored by the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Community Bank, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Media One Radio Group, National Grid, OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal.

Chamber Urges Continued Caution as COVID Impacts Our Economy

The past week continued to be challenging for businesses in Chautauqua County, as we became aware of a few businesses that temporarily closed or reduced hours due to staff illness and/or quarantine and to sanitize facilities. This is happening more and more frequently especially in workplaces where employees are in close contact with one another throughout their shifts. It should go without saying that this is no way to have to run a business, especially at a time when it’s been challenging to find employees in the first place.

At the same time, local and regional hospitals have reported overcrowding conditions that wear both on the staff and the space available to house patients. This is perhaps the first time during the pandemic that hospitals have faced such critical levels. Kudos to the medical and ancillary staffers who are working hard to care for patients even while they are juggling logistical troubles!

As our daily case numbers have returned to levels not seen since last January, we urge caution – for the sake of our families, communities, and economy. For many months now the Chamber of Commerce has been encouraging local residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With the Pfizer vaccine being granted full FDA approval for adults, the vaccine is our best insurance for keeping our businesses and schools open and protecting the health of our communities as a whole.

Individual privately-run businesses and organizations have full authority to establish their own rules for employees and customers. As masking and other policies are becoming more common again, we also continue to urge local residents to respect the rules set by each venue. It is hard enough to operate a business in “normal” times, but perhaps now more than ever with the continuing pandemic, workforce challenges, and confusing government regulations. While these challenges continue, the Chamber of Commerce will be re-launching its communications to businesses to assist in understanding and implementing the often vague and confusing regulations and guidelines. Please watch for these emails, and never hesitate to reach out if you have specific questions or ideas to help others navigating these challenges.

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