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Niagara River Region Chamber recaps 2018 at annual breakfast

Sat, Dec 15th 2018 07:00 am

The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual year-end member’s breakfast on Wednesday at The Brickyard Brewing Company.

As guests enjoyed bacon, eggs and french toast, Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly reviewed events and activities from 2018. She also offered a preview of initiatives set in motion for 2019.

Among the highlights:

•Chamber staff planned and oversaw the “Taste of Jazz” fundraiser, the Smelt Festival, the Northwest Jazz Festival, the new Harvest & Hops Festival, Small Business Saturday programming, the Lewiston Christmas Walk and the Tour of Homes (this in partnership with the Historical Association of Lewiston).

•The chamber refocused its board and committees, so that equal attention is paid to events/marketing, membership, finance, development and government affairs interests.

•Community outreach increased with the new “Coffee & Conversation” events, a business expo miniature-golf tournament at Academy Park, expanded member-to-member discount and gift certificate programs, a booth on Center Street for Small Business Saturday, and 12 ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

•Five business “blenders” were held in 2018. These events will continue into the new year, but with a service component – a Habitat for Humanity-type project, for example. The “blenders” also might add a “speed networking” element.

•For 2019, the chamber is offering a business association membership discount. So, for example, if a new retailer joins the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, said merchant will receive a discount on its first year of chamber membership.

•The chamber is looking into forming a charitable foundation to qualify for 501(c)(3) benefits.

Following the meeting, Pauly said, “The chamber foundation will exist under the chamber to further our mission. Many chambers create foundations for a specific purpose aligning with their mission. Ours is development in communities. Many grants and opportunities are available to status in 501(c)(3).”

She noted some chambers have foundations for workforce or economic development, while others are education-focused.

•A new website is under development, while a new logo or branding is possible.

Pictured above, from left, at the breakfast are Suzanne Raby, Caitlin Fager and Pauly.

Pauly addresses attendees.

Chamber board members Chris O’Hara (chairwoman) and Matt Villnave.

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