Chamber corner: Shop local to support our economy

It’s not a new concept, but it has renewed significance since many businesses had to close at the onset of the pandemic last year. The Shop Local movement is more relevant than ever. If you sincerely want to help boost your community and our local businesses, spend your money with local merchants and local restaurants.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce has been stressing the importance of shopping locally for many years. We offer a local gift card that can be used at more than 140 merchants countywide. We have promoted Small Business Saturday, working to drive sales to local businesses at the start of each busy holiday shopping season. And in 2020 we worked with a number of partners to launch ShopLocalCHQ, an online sales and marketing platform that provides a convenient way to support local businesses through online shopping.

ShopLocalCHQ now offers over 400 products through 74 local merchants. It’s a fast and simple way to make a difference for local business while you’re shopping for things you need and want anyway. Just visit shoplocalchq.com and click on Shop Now to find a variety of products and service offered by local businesses. Shopping through this site is as easy as shopping on the big box online stores. You can aggregate all of your purchases in a single shopping cart and checkout is convenient. Whether you’re shopping for your favorite dad or your favorite grad this season, visit ShopLocalCHQ.com to find something special and support local business.


It’s important to dispel myths as they arise, so we continue to do so. The Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act does not apply to venues or businesses inquiring about your COVID vaccination status. HIPPA language is very specific to healthcare providers such as doctors’ offices or hospitals – which may not disclose your personal medical information to anyone other than the patient or their designated representative.

The fact is that a stadium, theater, concert venue, or any business, can ask patrons to demonstrate proof of vaccination before entering. The same is true for mask-usage: a business can require patrons and employees to wear a face covering in the business. Businesses have both a right and a responsibility to keep their employees and customers safe, and these are among the tools they can use as we continue to work towards a more vaccinated population to protect our families and communities from the coronavirus. The New York State Excelsior Pass is designed to provide proof of vaccination without providing a direct view of personal health records.

It is clear that vaccinations have moved us to a point where the restrictions for businesses have been loosened, and where those who are vaccinated feel safer in public settings. Now we need to make additional progress. As of the data published June 6, 43% of county residents had received a first dose of a COVID vaccine, while just 38% are fully vaccinated.

The Chamber of Commerce and MAST continue to urge all local residents to get vaccinated. COVID-19 continues to flourish and to create variants where it finds unvaccinated hosts – creating versions of the virus that spread more rapidly and can cause even more severe illness. Getting vaccinated will keep you, your family, and your community healthy and safe. The vaccine is safe, effective, and free. At 95% efficacy, the vaccine is extraordinarily effective at protecting you from the virus. The vaccines have been thoroughly tested and now everyone aged 12 and over is eligible to take the vaccine.

To find a provider convenient to you, check out the Chautauqua County Health Department website, or visit vaccinehound.org/Chautauqua or The Chautauqua Center website at tcchealth.org.


The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce along with its Community Chambers in Hanover, Dunkirk, and Fredonia are excited to jointly host the return of Business After Hours! This will be the first such event since February of 2020 and Chamber members are looking forward to coming together to celebrate the start of summer and a return to in-person networking events. This special event is being held at the Sunset Bay Beach Club, next to Cabana Sam’s on June 17. It will be an outdoor beach party from 5-7:30pm and will include live music, food, beverages, and an evening among friends reconnecting. Sponsors are Cabana Sam’s, Evans Bank, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Larson-Timko Funeral Home, and Precision Transportation/Rattlesnake Development. Chamber member businesses get two free registrations per business. The cost to bring additional staff (above the two comps) or for non-members is $15 per person. Each registrant gets a ticket for one free drink. Wear a mask, follow the rules for the venue, and join in the fun for this beach party event. You can sign up now on the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.


In our continuing series of Tuesday Talks events the Chamber and MAST are pleased to present a timely topic that will benefit all local businesses: workforce needs and workforce development. We recognize that it has been challenging for some employers to fill vacancies recently across a variety of work environments, and that there may be numerous reasons for those challenges. Join us for a panel discussion around this issue at 8:30am, Tuesday, June 22. Among our guest presenters will be Katie Geise, Executive Director of the Chautauqua Workforce Investment Board; Melinda Mack, Executive Director of New York Association of Training and Workforce Professionals; Jim Parker of Digitell, a local technology company; and Dale Gier of Producto, a local manufacturer. Our goal is to leave businesses not just with a better picture of the situation, but with some tips to help them move forward. This will be an online event. Registration is open now on our web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.


The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the office of Congressman Tom Reed have worked to reschedule the annual Chamber Congressional Luncheon that was postponed earlier this year. The new date is July 15. The Chamber is working to schedule this as a hybrid event so that those who choose to attend in person may do so and those who choose to participate online will have that option as well. Watch for further details to be announced as we plan for this event.


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