by Joshua Maloni
The Service Organizations of Lewiston group has joined forces with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce's Lewiston Advisory Committee.
The merger will "provide an avenue for communication between the business organizations and the service organizations and the events that they are involved with," said LAC Chairman Rick Haight. This new union "provides a forum for communication between (service) groups and the business organizations to hopefully feed off each other, information and even volunteering and things of that nature, so that both sides can benefit."
Rivershore Inc. Executive Director Jeff Sanderson was chairman of SOLE when it merged with the LAC on March 21. He said he is "very pleased," "optimistic" and "excited" about the prospect of the two organizations working together to better address the challenges facing Lewiston. The collaboration, Sanderson said, will allow the newly bolstered LAC "to more effectively address concerns shared by both" groups.
Former Village of Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri established SOLE in the mid-'90s.
"Our primary job over the years has been to create connections" between the SOLE members, Sanderson said. SOLE participants included the Kiwanis Club, the Lewiston Council on the Arts, the Historical Association of Lewiston, the Niagara County Aktion Club and Niagara University.
In recent months, Sanderson began attending LAC meetings. As Kiwanis Club president-elect, he wanted to update business leaders on parking and traffic plans related to the Peach Festival.
"I observed that there was some crossover" between SOLE and the LAC, he said. "Many of the discussions pertained to issues that were relevant to both groups."
Following a conversation with Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano, he was convinced of the merits of a merger.
"(SOLE) served a lot of good purposes," Sanderson said. But with a struggling economy and more demand on each member's schedule, "it became more challenging for people to devote time" to attend SOLE meetings.
When he approached the LAC about joining forces, Sanderson said, "I received a positive response and was encouraged to take this back to the SOLE committee."
Sanderson consulted with each SOLE member, informing the group "there would be a better opportunity to share concerns" and more ability to find volunteers and serve all of Lewiston as one unified group under the LAC umbrella.
"There was a resounding interest in doing so," he said.
"We all want the same thing," Sanderson said, and that is to efficiently serve the needs of the service organizations, the businesses and the residents of Lewiston.
Former SOLE members
Participants in the Service Organizations of Lewiston group included: