Chamber to recognize local residents and organizations

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize a number of local leaders and business and community impact during our Annual Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 5.

The Chamber’s annual Economic Development Award is being presented to the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth. CCPEG brings together more than 65 partner organizations from throughout the county to focus on business development, placemaking, workforce development, housing development, and infrastructure. In 2022 alone, CCPEG secured nearly $1.5 million in funding and leveraged over $7.1 million more. Beyond the funding, they have an exciting initiative underway through a campaign called Live CHQ, aimed at promoting workforce and residential recruitment.

The Person of the Year Award will be presented to Greg Peterson. A long-time attorney with Phillips Lytle in Jamestown, Greg has acted as general counsel to the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency for over 35 years. He has also left a mark on countless civic, charitable, and professional organizations. He is a founding member and past President of the Robert H. Jackson Center and has been instrumental in helping to develop its educational programming. He serves on the board of directors for The Resource Center Foundation, the Business Council of New York State, and is chairman of the Jamestown Professional Baseball Executive Committee. He has been instrumental over the years in attracting and maintaining professional baseball in Jamestown.

Each of our six Community Chamber Committees has also named a Community Impact Award recipient for this year to recognize a business, organization, or individual for the positive impact they and/or their employees have had on the community.

The Community Impact Award in Dunkirk will be presented to Bridget Majka. Ms. Majka is the Director of Programs with Chautauqua County Rural Ministry and has over 25 years in the field of childcare. She was previously the director at Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center in Falconer and an adjunct instructor at Jamestown Community College in Early Childhood Education. With Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, she oversees fifteen program including the Emergency Food Pantry, Friendly Kitchen, Supervised Visitation, and more.

The Community Impact Award in Fredonia will be presented to DFT Communications. A telecommunications company providing phone and internet service to the Dunkirk, Fredonia, Cassadaga, and Jamestown regions, DFT has been serving the area for 125 years. The company, its owners the Maytum family, and its employees have been proudly involved in helping with and funding a variety of organizations countywide including United Way, St. Susan Center, TRC Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Fredonia College Foundation, JCC Foundation, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, and many others.

The Hanover Community Impact Award will be presented to Rick Klisiewicz. The chair of the Hanover Community Chamber Committee, he has also been involved in a number of community organizations including the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Chautauqua County Conservation Club, Chautauqua County 4-H, and many others.

The Jamestown Community Impact Award will go to the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Foundation formed as a very small family foundation and has grown to provide support for numerous nonprofits in southern Chautauqua County, granting more than $2 million to more than 45 organizations annually. Its mission is to devote financial assistance to advance the physical, educational, and cultural well-being of the people of southern Chautauqua County.

The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Impact Award will go to Sorena Gilkinson. Sorena stepped up to chair the Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber Committee in 2020 and worked hard to maintain and enhance its programming to serve the local business community. She is also an entrepreneur. Following many years of working for local credit unions she is a realtor and owns her own business, Handcrafted from the Heart.

The Westfield-Barcelona Community Impact Award will be presented jointly to Janese and Tom Berkhouse. With a 44-year career in finance and insurance, Janese is currently the treasurer for the Rotary Club of Westfield and the YWCA of Westfield. She is a board member for Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care. Tom currently serves on the Barcelona Harbor Commission, the Westfield Memorial Hospital Board, Patterson Library Hands, Westfield Cemetery Association, and the Rotary Club of Westfield.

We are so fortunate to have many dedicated individuals in Chautauqua County who come together to volunteer as well as to provide the bedrock of our growing business community. We hope the entire county will join us in saluting all these deserving award recipients during the Chamber’s Annual Awards Banquet, which will be held Thursday, October 5 at the Williams Center at SUNY Fredonia. All are welcome to attend, and registration is open through the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chqchamber.org.


After a summer hiatus, the Chamber of Commerce is pleased to get back into the business of creating direct business-to-business connections. Our first fall Business After Hours will be held Thursday, September 21 at Grace & Abe’s 14 North Portage Street, Westfield. Join us from 5-6:30pm for complimentary appetizers and a cash bar and remember to bring your business cards for networking. This Business After Hours event is sponsored by Grace & Abe’s, AHN Westfield Memorial Hospital, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal. Chamber member organizations are invited to bring two guests at no charge. Non-members or any guests above the complimentary limit pay just $10 each. Registration is not required but is appreciated for our planning purposes. You can sign up through the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chqchamber.org.


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