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Message from the President | July 2019

President/CEO A.J. Baynes
President/CEO A.J. Baynes

The New York Legislature recently ended its session in usual fashion: into the wee hours of the morning. Policy approval always runs into overtime and waiting on the fate of bills critical to business can be daunting.

I was pleased to see at the eleventh hour, the legislature decided to table changes to the prevailing wage laws. The proposed bill would have required private sector companies receiving any kind of state or local aid to pay top wages and benefits to workers, significantly raising the cost of economic development projects. Even more detrimental, New York City was exempt from the additional cost requirement. While our community has seen a flurry of infrastructure investment and improved job growth, this bill would have surely brought a halt to our progress so far.

During this session, the legislature also passed new sexual harassment laws that provide stronger protections for victims. Our state now has among the toughest sexual harassment laws in the country. The new laws lower the threshold for what is unlawful discrimination and employers can no longer claim they were unaware of it. It has become increasingly vital for all businesses to educate themselves and their employees with anti-discrimination programs, and the state mandates that training occur annually. The Chamber is once again offering a sexual harassment prevention seminar for both members and non-members. Nearly 80 people joined us for our first session in February, but many businesses asked if we could hold another this year to help them comply with the new rules. The second rigorous session will be led by Lisa Coppola of The Coppola Firm, with assistance from an Employer Services Corporation HR representative and defense attorney Frank LoTempio from LoTempio Law Group. This will be held on Monday, August 12, 2019, 4 p.m. at SUNY Erie’s Auditorium on the North Campus. Registration is now open, and we encourage you to sign up yourself and your employees here.

The Chamber had a jam-packed June, highlighted by another successful Corporate Challenge, an event that continues to grow every year. Check out the video in our newsletter this month and special thanks to all who made it happen, including AAA, Al-Ross Screen Printing and Embroidery, Big Ditch Brewing Company, Novum Medical Products, Schaffstall Chiropractic and all our team members!

We ended the month on a high note with our Emerging Business Leaders Summer ProMix. Well over a hundred headed downtown to the Labatt Brew House for a gorgeous night on the patio. The focus is on our young professionals, but there were plenty of board members in the mix, showing their support for the program and the future decision-makers in our community. The Chamber will hold another ProMix this fall after our EBL class graduates from our program. If you’d like more information about the Leadership program and how to join, click here.

There are more chances to network in July with drinks on the new patio at Lime House for Business After Hours (register) and another Lunch Mob in the City in the open dining area of Big Ditch Brewing Company (register). Don’t miss out on a moment of summer, and remember, my door is always open.

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