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Message from A.J. Baynes: December 2023

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

As the year draws to a close, it's natural to reflect on the past twelve months and evaluate what we've accomplished. Have we met the goals we set for ourselves? Have we made progress in areas we identified as essential? If we are honest with ourselves, we'll likely find areas where we fell short, goals we didn't quite achieve, or targets we didn't hit. I have always preferred a more positive outlook instead of dwelling on shortcomings, and I'd encourage everyone to do the same. It's important to view our missed opportunities as future opportunities for growth and improvement. After all, our losses make our wins much more satisfying.

At the Chamber, we are excited to announce that registration for our 2024 Emerging Business Leaders Leadership class is now open for those young professionals looking to hone their professional skills and build upon their brand. This once-a-month, ten-session program is designed to help aspiring leaders develop the skills they need to succeed in today's ever-changing business landscape. From communication and collaboration to strategic thinking and decision-making, this course covers everything you need to know to take your career to the next level. You will also have plenty of opportunities to network and build long-lasting relationships with your peers throughout the Western New York region.

Along with our Emerging Business Leader's Leadership class accepting applications, we will have the return of the EBL Winter ProMix! Wednesday, January 31. Break free from cabin fever and join us at Sto Lat Bar to network with over 100 young professionals from 5:30 to 7:30. I want to thank our sponsors, UB School of Management and Spectrum Reach, for supporting this incredible event. Also, before you come, check your closet for any coats you would like to donate to support the Coats 4 Kids campaign by Colvin Cleaners.

Please circle the date for the Chamber's Annual Meeting at 8:30am, Friday, February 2, at Reikart House. That day, we will install our Board of Directors and hear from Supervisor Brian Kulpa when he delivers his State of the Town Address. This is an open event; we encourage everyone to join us to learn more about the Chamber and hear from the Amherst Town Supervisor. You can register by visiting our website:

Our Holiday Lunch Mob is happening this Wednesday, December 13 at Fresh Catch in Williamsville. Last year, we attracted over 40 members to our holiday lunch mob, and I anticipate we'll exceed those numbers this year. Also, please register for our first Lunch Mob of 2024 when we are at Wegmans on Sheridan Drive.

As we all know, this is a time of year when many people are focused on shopping for gifts and supporting their favorite businesses. And while it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of big-box stores and online retailers, I encourage everyone to consider shopping small this holiday season. The Shop 716 eGift Card program continues as we ensure local dollars stay in our local economy.

I want to thank the incredible team at the Chamber for their hard work throughout the year. We have a small team of individuals who are fierce advocates for our members and want to ensure you get the most out of your membership. I can't thank them enough for their work. I wish everyone a happy and safe new year. May 2024 be filled with health, happiness, and prosperity for all, and please remember my door is always open.

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