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July 22, 2022 - 8:10am

Chamber of Commerce loses funding for branding initiative

Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will be a little short in the wallet for a new branding initiative that the former president had proposed.

The county’s Ways and Means Committee voted this week to rescind the $139,500 advance payment because Erik Fix had requested a material change in the original proposal, and then shortly after resigned his position. Fix had initially requested $240,000 from the county to establish a branding initiative that would meet American Rescue Plan Act requirements. ARPA was established in 2021 to shore up American businesses and organizations that lost revenues due to the pandemic.

County Manager Matt Landers said that due to the change in terms from the chamber, county legislators and he agreed to terminate the contract.

“After the contract between the County and Chamber was executed, and the Chamber started the work on the contract, they suggested some changes on how to utilize the ARPA funds, which would require a contract amendment,” Landers said to The Batavian. “The County and the Chamber were in the process of exploring an appropriate contract amendment when the Chamber President announced he was leaving his post. Since Erik was the driving force behind this initiative, we felt it was appropriate to void the current contract altogether and hopefully bring forward a new one once a new president is on board.”

The budget will be amended by decreasing ARPA contractual expenses in the amount of $139,500, to be offset by a decrease in federal aid in the same amount.

The branding initiative stemmed from a template “that worked well in Livingston County” and seemed likely to also work well in Genesee County, Landers said.

“We are supportive of this effort that supports local tourism and local businesses,” he said. "Assisting local tourism efforts that suffered greatly during the pandemic is one of the areas targeted in the regulations on the ARPA funds.”

The money is to be reimbursed to the county in one lot, he said.  

Genesee County received a total of $11,125,969 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds made available through the federal ARPA, signed into law in March 2021.

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