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Genesee County Chamber of Commerce

September 18, 2022 - 8:45pm

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Monroe Davidson, manufacturer of woolen shirts and jackets under the label of Melton Shirts, began on Liberty Street, Genesee Community College moved to a brand new campus on College Road northeast of the city, and the P. W. Minor Company moved its shoe-making business from Jefferson Avenue to the Industrial Park off Pearl Street.

All of those events happened in 1972, also the year that the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce was established. Chamber folks have been celebrating all year long, culminating with a 50th anniversary gala Saturday evening at The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford.

Hosted by Chamber staff Tom Turnbull, interim president, and Kelly Bermingham, director of Member Relations and Events, the gala drew 100 local business, municipal, and community members for a year-end celebration.

John Dwyer was the first Chamber president, and he shared a story of how the rivalry between Batavia and Le Roy began in 1947. Dwyer was playing with the Blue Devils, and one particular game pitted the two foes, ending in a questionable touchdown called by the referee. The crowd had veiled the quarterback's catch as people encroached the endzone with wild enthusiasm. Fights broke out, and it was the epitome of mayhem amongst both teams -- and municipalities -- he said.

As a leader of the Batavia Area Chamber two dozen years later, Dwyer recalled having driven past that game location on the way to a meeting at Le Roy Country Club. Despite the odds of merging, Dwyer was charged with making it happen, though he hadn't forgotten his memories of that game and ensuing discord.

Many others before him had failed already, but apparently, enough people felt that it was the right thing to do. 

"And some people understood that we had to make some changes here ... the county level is the one place where you have political input, you can be listened to.  But we needed a plan because we were in desperate need of something, some representation," he said, noting what the sentiment was at the time. "We have to speak with one voice. We have a need for professional help. And the first step, of course, would have been a County Chamber of Commerce, where the businesses had a voice, and tourism, and a political voice and input as the voice of business." 

A historic vote was taken that changed the course of each smaller entity, he said. The rivalry would soon give way to cooperation.

"So anyway, it all finally came together and the night was a snowy night ... I had no idea how this was going to work out. But the editor of the Le Roy paper, he already said he had written an editorial suggesting that this was the right path to take. And he was affirmative about my actions and my intentions," Dwyer said. "And so, as it worked out, on a snowy night at the Le Roy Country Club, the vote was yea. And we ended up at that point with the County Chamber of Commerce." 

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Le Roy and Batavia merged, also folding in the remaining towns and villages for a countywide Chamber of Commerce.

The 70s also signaled another path for the city, as it was swept up in urban renewal funding that tore down the heart and soul of downtown. Genesee Country Mall was built, many businesses have come and gone, visions for the city have adjusted to current times, and the Chamber’s role has not only adapted, but expanded, to meet those needs over the years, Bermingham said.

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“When I started I was 29 years old, I was young and naive in everything back in 1995. That's when I started. As everyone knows, there was no social media, there was no internet, there was nothing like that. So everything was face-to-face, we had a lot of committee meetings, and we did things … it was more face-to-face, snail mail, things like that. So going from 1995 to 2022, as I look back and I'm like, wow, you know, everything now is social media and Internet. So that's been a huge, huge change,” she said to The Batavian. “I’ve been through … six bosses, so to speak, you know, that I've gone through and right now, waiting to get another one. Right. So let it change. And I will admit, I'm not good at it. But I've learned that usually, on the other side, it's a good thing.”

She admitted to being a little more old-fashioned in the face of texts flying back and forth to communicate. Bermingham would rather pick up the phone and talk to someone, she said. But those are mere details compared to the services offered by the agency, she said, beginning with health insurance and cell phone plans 30 years ago.

As those offerings eroded due to higher technology and other providers, the Chamber took on a higher level of service: providing whatever was needed. Whether that was to get up to speed with a business website, connect to others in the area, or better promote a merchant, the Chamber rises to the challenge, she said.

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“I think we really have expanded, I think that we have become the place to go for businesses. We're not your grandfather's chamber, and we're there to do whatever you need. If you have an HR issue, boom. You don't know people, we'll connect you. That's why our promote, support and connect tagline has done so well, because you join, and remember, then we can get you with other team members to support you in any way we possibly can. One of my past co-workers would always say we bend over backward, and we really do. We'll do anything. We'll try to find the answer and we'll try to connect you any way we can.”

Former and now Interim President Tom Turnbull began in 2013, left in March 2021, and returned temporarily as another candidate is chosen. No matter whether the Chamber deals with big or small businesses, he recognizes the biggest one in Genesee County is agriculture. Those farms that people drive by every day are sources for not only ag products, but also for various administrative and food chain jobs besides the obvious ones of tending to the land and livestock, he said.

“Our whole mission is to promote and support business,” he said. “We take a stance on local business; there’s strength in numbers. You can see it happening, it’s on an upswing. Things are happening; it’s headed in the right direction.”

While the national retail market has changed with the prevalence of websites and social media, Turnbull sees success locally of niche retailers, those merchants that are selling products and services that don’t exist quite the same elsewhere. And the more people around, the more they are apt to shop locally, he said.

“Getting those apartments downtown is a good thing,” he said. “When you have more people, you have a need for more services.”

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Connecting the dots is important when assessing the business scene, he said. For example, building a Main Street theater means more than just providing entertainment. During rehearsals, actors are downtown, parents are downtown waiting to pick up their children, and all of them create a more dynamic scene, and one in need of places to eat, drink and shop, he said.

The presence of online sites prompted the addition of a related position to take care of e-newsletters, social media posts and related efforts to promote businesses. That job was “a great addition,” Turnbull said. He credits Dwyer — former owner of the famed Thomas & Dwyer shoe store downtown — for being “very visionary” to see the need of a cohesive Chamber that embraced both the Batavia and Le Roy branches.

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As for Turnbull’s own record, he is especially proud of three accomplishments during his time: reviving the home show (a good, old-fashioned dose of putting people right in front of businesses); moving to Park Road with offices and space for tourism and a Visitors Center; and working hard during the pandemic to shore up losses felt by merchants, so that they could shift to sell more take-out meals, and understand and navigate pandemic protocols to keep making revenue.

He doesn’t see the Chamber’s role changing much; just the way in which staff does it.

“Our role is to support and promote local business in any way we can,” he said. “As long as we continue to support business, it won’t matter the way we do it.”

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Top Photo: Chamber Committee President Mickey Hyde, left, with Chamber Interim President Tom Turnbull, raise a glass and toast 50 years of the agency's existence Saturday evening during the Chamber's gala at Red Osier in Stafford; Founding member John Dwyer shares some thoughts and memories about when the Chamber of Commerce was established countywide; Chamber member and supporter Craig Yunker, left, Director of Member Relations and Events Kelly Bermingham, and John Dwyer enjoy some time on the patio of Red Osier during the Chamber's 50th gala; former Chamber webmaster and online manager Steven Falitico -- who Interim President Tom Turnbull credits for having taken the position to "another level,"  joins other guests at the buffet during the gala Saturday; a book for guests to leave comments for the occasion includes all sorts of praise for the Chamber's success; Tom Turnbull shows off the fancy cake created by Buttercrumbs Bakery in Corfu; and live music entertained attendees during the evening. Photos by Howard Owens.

September 6, 2022 - 1:56pm

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There are limited reservations available for anyone wanting to join the 50th Golden Anniversary Celebration for Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, organizers say. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 17 and includes a cocktail hour, dinner and live music on the patio of Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford. Deadline for reservations is Friday.

For more information or to register, call 585-343-7440 or click HERE.

 

 

August 25, 2022 - 12:00pm


The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is the go to place for all of the fun events that are happening in Genesee County!  With over 400 events posted this year, you’ll always find something fun to do!  From live music, to nature or history programs, farmer’s markets to fall festivals, we’ve got you covered!
Explore all that’s happening this fall in Genesee County at GeneseeCalendar.com .

 

July 28, 2022 - 4:00pm

Genesee Tourism: Antique Truck Farm & Construction Show

On August 6th & 7th, head to Alexander for the 2-day event that specializes in antique vehicles and farm equipment presented by Empire State Antique Truck Association! Spend the weekend at the tractor pulls, slow truck race, and enjoy searching for hidden gems at the flea market.


This event is open to the public, admission and parking are free. Event details . See our jam-packed events calendar at: GeneseeCalendar.com.

July 26, 2022 - 4:38pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, batavia, notify.

chamberpres_tom_turnbull.jpegThere’s a lot of transition going on for Tom Turnbull, former president of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, he says.

The Batavia resident’s wife Michelle just retired, their son T.J. graduated from college this year and is working in Buffalo, and now Turnbull is back in the saddle at the chamber — temporarily.

“It’s a temporary interim position just to fill in,” he said Tuesday. “Erik left … I’m filling in the presidential duties.”

Former president Erik Fix’s last day was Friday. He left to assume the role of assistant city manager this week. Although Fix gave notice, it still can take time to assemble a search committee, advertise, interview and hire for the position, Turnbull said.

“So they asked if I'd be willing, and I was kind of flattered, actually,” he said. “I love the staff here. And I mean, they're great to work with. So I said, sure, as long as it was gonna be temporary. So we're kind of  ballparking it for three months.”

His life for the next few months will be filled with parades, ribbon-cuttings, a chamber 50th gala celebration, the yearly Ag tour, a Leadership Genesee visit, and business after-hours mixer at The Game of Throes.

“That should be fun,” he said. “That's the type of stuff I always loved about this job. You get to go and do things and see things that you normally wouldn’t.”

He has already broached the topic of grant money and a contract that was just cancelled by Genesee County due to changes in the original proposal and fact that Fix would no longer be at the agency. Turnbull talked with County Manager Matt Landers and was reassured that the branding initiative plan and grant funding can proceed when the details are ironed out and a new president is in place.

“We’ll work with the new president so they’ll be up to speed; we’re the ones to do it,” Turnbull said of the branding initiative. “I love this staff. I mean, they're all talented. They're all professional. I've worked with them before and loved working with them, so it made it a really easy decision to fill in here for the time being.”

He will work approximately 20-25 hours a week and plans to be in the office every weekday.

Turnbull was president for seven years before retiring from his post.

July 22, 2022 - 8:10am

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.

June 30, 2022 - 12:00pm


From open mic nights and acoustic sets in restaurants and bars, to full scale outdoor concerts at large local venues- you can find it all on www.JamInGenesee.com!

  • Get The Led Out: A Celebration of The Might Zep
    • 7/1/22 | 5PM | Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel
  • Josh Groban Live In Concert
    • 7/1/22 | 7PM | Darien Lake Performing Art Center
  • The Batavia Ramble Explore Arts and Music Festival 
    • 7/2/22 | 10AM-9PM | Downtown Batavia 
  • Joel Russlett Acoustic Set
    • 7/2/22 | 5PM | The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant
  • Public Water Supply 
    • 7/2/22 | 8PM | Cherry Hill Campground

Don’t miss any of the action and subscribe for live music updates at https://visitgeneseeny.com/forms/live-music-updates

 

June 14, 2022 - 9:22pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, music, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, notify.

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It all began last summer when Kelly Rapone began to note all of the musical events popping up throughout the week.

They weren’t just the typical weekend happenings, she said, as there were also new offerings from restaurants, bars and other venues.

“Our office spends many, many hours collecting, and rounding up countywide events to add to our tourism website. So it's a very robust calendar to begin with. But when I started to see all the live music, kind of like taking over, I was like, you know, there really is something here that is special, and isn't really being promoted at the level that I think warrants,” Rapone said during an interview with The Batavian. “And that literally, there is something nearly every night of the week going on here.”

As tourism marketing director of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Rapone believes that these types of observations can mean something to the community. As a “niche” marketer, she looks at the specific trends in relation to Genesee County, and even though musical offerings vary from blues and country to jazz and rock ’n’ roll, she found the niche of live performances  — everywhere.

“I don't tend to paint our county with a broad brush. But I do, when I see a little niche, I really claw into it, and I run with it. And this is what I see going on here, in that it's not literally just about the musicians in the band. But it's what these businesses are doing to attract an economic impact into their facilities,” she said. You know, music and entertainment is really driving attendance at venues that normally might have a quiet Monday night or a Tuesday night.”

So she ran with the idea to serve up all of these events in one collective space for easy access. And Jam in Genesee was born. The website lists all sorts of musical happenings, from concerts in a park to the Jackson Square summer series, featured music nights at restaurants and live band appearances at taverns, bars and breweries. And anything in between.

When she typically sees a total of 300 to 400 events go on the Chamber calendar for the year, Rapone has been surprised to have received 100 submissions just for music events alone so far, she said.

A quick look at the website is evidence of the varying events going on locally, including concerts at Darien Lake Amphitheater, Batavia Downs Gaming, Copperhead, Flyin’ Eagle, Jam at the Ridge, and Centennial Park; plus open mic nights, karaoke and acoustic performances at assorted bars and restaurants.

“We all are aware of the larger concert venues and the larger musicians that come into the area, but, I mean, the county is just chock full of these events ranging from small bars and restaurants to parks and festivals, all the way up to Batavia Downs and Darien Lake,” said Steven Falitico, director of sales and marketing. “So that's what this program does, is, it brings it all under the same kind of power or under the same roof and allows for us to promote it that way instead of individually.”

To get the scoop on current and future musical events, go to Jam in Genesee. Events can also be submitted at the site, and Rapone is hoping that restaurateurs take advantage of that opportunity to promote their music schedules. There is also an option to sign up for the Chamber’s E-newsletter with updates about the live music scene, she said.

“The beautiful thing about this is that it shows that we are a vibrant place to visit, and there's something going on for entertainment nearly nightly,” Rapone said. “And I think that makes a destination very attractive in terms of things to do in the evening when you're traveling places. It's really just another notch in our belt of what more we are able to say, that you can experience here in Genesee County, and have a good time.”

May 26, 2022 - 12:00pm

Join Our Team!

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is hiring a Marketing Assistant for the Tourism Department. 

Details here: https://visitgeneseeny.com/about/join-our-team

To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to Sara Stockwell at [email protected] or mail to Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, 8276 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

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