Every winter, Town of Niagara residents ring in the holidays with the colorful and lively Niagara Electric Lights Parade. At the start of every year, an awards dinner celebrates businesses and citizens in the town. And at the end of every summer is the annual Steak Out.
Events like the parade are hits with the public, but not many know about the organization behind them: the Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association.
The TNBPA a mission statement "To promote, develop and improve the business climate" and "enhance the quality of life in the Town of Niagara," but community events are just a small part of the association's whole.
The Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association, founded in 1996, had some humble beginnings. The group was started by about a dozen people who pooled together their own funds to send out flyers and get the group off the ground.
Since then, the all-volunteer organization has grown to count about 100 businesses and organizations as its members. It also has associate members from surrounding communities, including Wheatfield and Sanborn.
"(We're there) to keep businesses together, to do things in the town, to carry forward the mission statement that we wrote many years ago about enriching the lives of citizens and businesses in the town," said Association President Gary Strenkoski of Strenkoski Bros. Construction, one of the group's founders. "We're there for the citizens and the businesses alike."
In addition to the summer Steak Out and Electric Lights Parade, through which the association has collected more than 10 tons of food for local food banks since its inception, the association grants scholarships to graduating seniors in the town every year, participates in beautification (the planters along Military Road are their doing) and sponsors events by Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, as well as the Niagara-Wheatfield High School After-Prom Party.
The association was also the first to throw a Hunter's Hope fundraiser and it supports the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
"We reach out and do what we can," Strenkoski said of the association's community involvement. "That's what we do, that's what we're there for."
Of course, the association also provides special benefits to its members. They receive inserts in association newsletters, use of its bulk mailing permit, a listing on the group's website and sponsorship opportunities for events and mixers.
They also receive business advocacy from the association's work with town government, a collaboration the group said works very well for both institutions. Plus, the association holds regular educational mixers for members, covering topics such as health insurance or retirement planning.
The organization seeks new members and people interested in serving on its board of directors.
"We're always looking for new ideas and new things to do," Strenkoski said.
Next year is the association's 20th anniversary. Strenkoski said he looks forward to seeing it move forward, adding, "Hopefully, we're going to be around another 20 years!"
For more information or to get involved, visit www.tnpba.com or contact Strenkoski at 716-550-0673.