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Message from the President | February 2020

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

If the month of January is any indication, 2020 is going to be another strong year for the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Ten days into the new year, we held our Annual Luncheon and State of the Town. It was earlier than usual so we could be out in front of the legislative cycle to ensure our elected officials know what matters most to us. It turned out to be a history-making event! The largest attendance in recent memory.

As we continue to grow our Chamber, we recognize the importance of sharing our mission and vision with our members, investors and stakeholders. For the first time at the luncheon, we included a brief overview of our Strategic Plan. In the years ahead, the Chamber will remain focused on growth and collaboration, continuing to build on our investor base that jumped from 18 major companies when I began as President/CEO in 2017 to the 57 we have today. Our reach is also growing.  We may have Amherst in our name, but our touch expands across the Buffalo Niagara region into nearly 80 different zip codes.

With the 2020 legislative session now underway in Albany, we will be closely monitoring the budget wrangling as state lawmakers grapple with a $6 billion deficit.

Governor Cuomo’s spending plan doesn’t contain any broad-based tax increases and even proposes a slight cut in taxes for small businesses registered as corporations from 6.5% to 4%. It also expands income exclusion for qualified sole proprietors and small farms to 15% of business income.

While there are few specifics, Governor Cuomo has targeted the bloated Medicaid bill to help bridge the budget gap. The governor wants to establish an outside panel to examine cost-cutting measures that will likely include reducing provider reimbursements and assessments and waste, fraud and abuse of the program.

The governor is also counting on a windfall from legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana with provisions for the business community to protect the workplace from impairment.

The Chamber is proud to partner with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on March 10th to advocate on behalf of small businesses in New York State, as elected officials hammer out a budget deal, hopefully before the April 1st deadline.

After a busy January filled with well-attended events, we ended the month on another solid note at the Winter ProMix for our Emerging Business Leaders.

The Chamber is proud of the more than 35 future leaders in our EBL Class of 2020 and excited that the program is also attracting emerging leaders in our community who are not enrolled. More than 100 young professionals gathered at the downtown location of Chamber member Fresh Catch and The Galley Lounge. The sleek, new poke restaurant at 500 Pearl provided a great backdrop for networking and fun. We’re thrilled the word is getting out and encourage anyone who wants to learn how we are grooming the region’s next decision-makers to check out our program here.

We jumped into February with a ribbon cutting at the newly expanded Jada Blitz Fitness. The owners are a husband/wife team who started as physical trainers with one employee and grew to a staff of 50 eight years later. This enormous workout center on Transit Road in Amherst also has lots of amenities, including a shake bar, supplement and apparel shop, physical therapy room, and a full café featuring Balanced Body Foods. Want to learn more? Watch Jada Blitz’s appearance on Channel 4’s Weekend Wake Up! show here.

There’s plenty more to do this month with Lunch Mob planned for tomorrow at Lloyd Taco Factory. Register here. Wine tasting and backstage tours are on tap at MusicalFare Theatre for Business After Hours on February 18th. Register here. Do you need to brush up on your speaking skills? Check out the Open House for the Amherst Chamber Toastmasters on February 28th. More details here.

Be on the lookout for our Valentine’s Day promotion featuring deals from our members, and if you are offering any specials, be sure to let us know at  Serving our Chamber community is at the heart of what we do. Thank you for your partnership and support, and remember, my door is always open.


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