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Message from A.J. Baynes: February 2023

A.J. Baynes Headshot
A.J. Baynes, President & CEO

To kick off the month of February, we had an incredible show of support from our business community and elected officials at our Annual Meeting. We were back in person for the first time in nearly three years for this event, and the energy in the room did not disappoint. With a standing-room-only crowd, the Chamber seated our 2023 Board of Directors; we unveiled our updated strategic plan and our Economic Development and Public Policy Agenda, a guiding light in our advocacy work as we continue to work towards creating a more robust Western New York economy. In addition, we heard from Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa about where the town has been and where it is headed. One longtime Chamber remarked, "on the coldest day of the winter, the Chamber is the hottest place to be."

We kicked off our Emerging Business Leaders Leadership Program this past week, and we couldn't be more excited for this record-breaking class participation of young professionals from nearly 30 different companies throughout our region. This once-a-month class will hone their professional skills, expand their social networks, and give our participants a chance to give back to the Western New York community. As part of their class programming, they will participate in our upcoming EBL Symposium on Friday, March 24, from 10:30am-4:00pm at Daemen University. Last year over 80 young professionals joined us for this half-day professional development in three distinct ways. Our presenters are experts in their field and will focus on Building your Personal brand, Inclusive Leadership, and Behavioral Science in the workplace. Our Symposium is open to ALL members and nonmembers of the Chamber. Daemen University was an incredible host last year, and we can't wait to return; please click here for more information.

At the end of this month, we will host our first West Herr Driven to Success Series with Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. Sheriff Garcia is through his first year in elected office and will provide some eye-opening information about the many facets of their organization. Our Driven to Success Series is a smaller event to encourage discussion with community leaders about their organization and learn more about their personal story.

Our professional group for women, Leadership & Inspiration for Trailblazers (LIFT), kicks off next month with their inaugural event on Sunday, March 5, at the Buffalo Beauts Hockey Game. I will be proud to drop the puck alongside my daughter Cecilia. Later that week, on International Woman's Day, Lift will host Females and Finance at The Establishment hosted by Vision Financial Group. The LIFT council has been working tirelessly in developing its core values, and we are so thankful for this incredible group of women who have come together to create such a thoughtful and meaningful council that will serve as a pillar of the Chamber.

Finally, I would like to congratulate our 2023 Board of Directors. Their commitment to our organization to lend their expertise and counsel allows our organization to flourish in our community. Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to our board Chair Mark Gaulin. Mark has worked tirelessly to ensure the Chamber remains focused on our mission. His collaborative spirit and attention to detail continue to push the Chamber to new heights. I thank everyone for your support in 2022, and 2023 promises to be an even better year. Please remember, if you need anything, my door is open.

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