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Message from the President | May 2020

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

For more than 50 years, the country has marked “National Small Business Week” in May. Even though this year’s celebrations have been postponed, now more than ever, we are recognizing the significance of small business in our economy. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken most every business to its core, but small business has taken the brunt.

While getting Western New York in the healthy zone is our region’s top priority, the Chamber also sees the importance of getting our business community prepared for the day we can slowly get back to work.

Recognizing that businesses need assistance rebounding from such a drastic shutdown, the Chamber is now focused on helping them craft a much-needed reopening plan. Last Friday, attorneys from Chamber investor Hurwitz and Fine held a webinar to lay out what businesses should know before bringing back employees. We learned some of the policies and protocols necessary for the "new normal" workplace. If you missed it, you can view the webinar here.

Another big consideration before bringing back a workforce is the physical layout of the office. Will your current set-up protect employees from catching the deadly virus? That’s why we called on Chamber member Vargas Associates to hold a webinar on Thursday, May 7th at 10 a.m. President and Founder Christine Vargas will talk about social distancing workers who sit in cubicles, either with a redesign or just rethinking your space. Vargas will also discuss how to handle public areas and visitors to ensure everyone’s safety. This issue is so important, the Amherst Chamber asked several other local chambers to co-host the event with us. We are so glad to include the Cheektowaga Chamber, Springville Area Chamber, Niagara River Region Chamber, Ken-Ton Chamber and Boston Colden Chamber. This is not the time to leave anyone behind, and if you are interested in joining the webinar, register here.

The Chamber was proud to host Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul during our virtual Open ProNet session. A native Western New Yorker, she gave us a local perspective of what the state is doing to help our residents and business community withstand the crisis. If you didn’t hear her message, you can watch it here.

We are also opening our Open ProNet videoconferences to other local chambers and look to include an educational component. Thanks to Paul Greiner, one of our ProNet facilitators, for his presentation on how to market your business during this crisis and beyond. Open ProNet runs every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on Zoom. Tomorrow, we will bring back Speed Networking! Join us here!

Maintaining our mental health and keeping a positive attitude are just as important during this challenging time. Stay on track by joining our Motivation Monday sessions every Monday at 8:30 a.m. Leadership expert Larry Mietus provides a quick dose of encouragement to start off your week on a positive note. Register here.

The Chamber is also helping to connect businesses with the goods and services they need, especially PPE. If you have PPE equipment in stock, please let us know, so we can help refer businesses to you.

We hope you have found value in our newsletters that are now coming to your inbox every Tuesday, and for up-to-the-minute, reliable information related to COVID-19, be sure to follow us on our active social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube).

If you’ve missed anything, know that our resources, newsletters and virtual events are just a click away on our homepage at

As always, if you have a question or need help solving a problem, send us an email at

Stay well and safe, and remember my virtual door is always open.

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