Message from the President | February 2019

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

We asked you to #StepUp and get involved in public policy and you certainly delivered.

A record crowd of 400 business and community leaders joined us this year for our Annual Luncheon where we engaged elected leaders throughout the WNY region on their policy priorities, rolled out an ambitious Public Policy Agenda, outlining our pro-business platform and listened as Supervisor Brian Kulpa laid out his strategy for Amherst in the State of the Town.

With the backdrop of change in Albany, the Chamber remains focused on the issues that will create a strong business climate. Some of the highlights in our Public Policy Agenda this year include several Economic Development policies: support for a permanent 2% property tax cap, a cashless toll system on the Thruway, exploring the possibility of a Youngs Road Thruway interchange, redevelopment at the former Westwood Country Club, an extended Metro Rail to the UB North Campus and protecting the tip credit. We also support several Health Care and Higher Education initiatives. You can view our Public Policy Agenda here or pick up a printed copy at the Chamber. Want to know where our elected leaders stand? Be sure to check out our #StepUp video in this newsletter.

The media took great interest in our vision for the business sector and the town, and several outlets attended our Luncheon, including WKBW, WIVB, WGRZ, The Buffalo News and The Amherst Bee. You can check out some of the coverage from the Luncheon in this newsletter.

The Luncheon also featured the installation of our Board of Directors for 2019, 40 people strong, representing several major companies across WNY, and we are honored to welcome our new Board Chair Laura Zaepfel, Vice President of Corporate Relations for Uniland Development. Laura is a consummate professional who has been entrenched in the business community for decades and is dedicated to ensuring the area’s resurgence is bringing prosperity to all. We look forward to benefitting from her great leadership.

A new state mandate went into effect this year requiring all employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training for their employees on an annual basis. The Chamber recognizes the tremendous undertaking and financial burden this requirement can have on small businesses. That’s why we are here for you. The Chamber will be holding a NYS compliant sexual harassment prevention training session for members and non-members at SUNY Erie (North Campus). Those who take part will receive a certificate of completion to show they have met the state mandate.

Our panel of experts, led by Employer Services Corporation, will conduct the training from every aspect: how to spot sexual harassment, how to stop it, what are your rights as a victim and what is your liability as an employer?

Also on the panel is Frank LoTempio III, a defense attorney at LoTempio Law Group and Erin Ewell, an employment attorney with The Coppola Firm. For more information and to register employees, click here.

After a successful Lunch Mob at Chef’s Restaurant last year, we head back downtown again this month for a noon meal at new Chamber member Fat Bob’s Smokehouse in Buffalo’s Allentown District. Many of you are aware of its award-winning BBQ fare, but if not, it’s worth checking out! Give your week a jumpstart and join us on Monday, February 11th by registering here.

If you are all in for trying new things, you’ll want to join us for Business After Hours this month at Fresh Catch Poke. The Chamber cut the ribbon on the new eatery a year ago, and since then, it’s really taken off. This Hawaiian delicacy is fresh and delicious, and we’ll have some wine and beer specialties to taste as well. We may even hear an announcement on a second location. We are happy to help them grow! Be sure to register here.

Do you dread public speaking or just want to get better at it? You’ll want to check out the Amherst Chamber’s Toastmasters group. It’s holding an Open House on February 22 when I will join Joanna Pasceri, the Chamber’s Communications and Marketing Director for a presentation on how our career paths led us to the Chamber. More information can be found in this newsletter.

February may be the shortest month of the year, but we’re jam-packed with ways to engage our members and help grow their businesses. We hope you take advantage of all the Chamber has to offer, and remember, my door is always open.