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Message from A.J. Baynes: March 2024

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

Spring is the season of growth and development, and we are doing just that at the Chamber. As many of you have experienced with the Chamber, we have enjoyed tremendous growth and utilization of our membership events. We have seen an uptick in our networking events and increased engagement by our EBLers,' and our annual meeting just last month had a record-setting turnout for that event. Due to that growth over the past few years, we have had to move many of our office's weekly events to various member businesses. Keller Williams has graciously hosted one of our Professional Networking groups at 5500 Main Street. Evans Bank has lent us their community space at their corporate office for our Emerging Business Leader Leadership classes. We have taken our West Herr Driven to Success Series on the road to various auditorium settings at ECC North and used banquet spaces at our member restaurants, such as Chef's downtown. Our offices are currently in the midst of a renovation project that will not only update and modernize our current layout but also allow us to bring back many of the events we host internally. We are nearly doubling the size of our current conference room, shifting our reception area, eliminating one of our smaller conference rooms, and making various cosmetic changes to our office. Most importantly, these changes will allow us to serve our members' needs better and more consistently. Our team is so excited to welcome you back, and while we are under construction, we will be working in a makeshift office just across the hall. If you need to arrange a meeting with one of our benefit managers, speak to someone about your membership, or just want to say hello, please feel free to set up an appointment by emailing us at

Keeping with the notion of growth and development, this Friday is our Emerging Business Leaders Symposium hosted at Daemen University and sponsored by National Grid. This half-day professional development is open to ALL Chamber members. It is an excellent way for you and your team to spend the day together refining their professional skills or even for an individual to join us while expanding their networking and building a better version of you. We are excited by the three-session program that Daemen University has put together. Each session will offer something a little different, such as "Building an Argument for Change," "Exploit Your Personality Traits in Leadership Roles," and "Improving Performance by Strengthening the Weakest Link." To learn more and register, please click HERE.

This month, we are very excited about our Business After Hours at the Northwest Amherst Community Center in partnership with Horizon Health, SUNY ECC, and Sweet Home Support Center. We will have live entertainment, mocktails, and, as always, plenty of networking. Please plan to join us on Tuesday, March 19, by registering here. Also, that week, on Thursday, March 21, we will host one of the more popular Lunch Mobs of the Year at The Irishmen from 12pm to 1:30pm (click here to register). It is the first day of the March Madness Round of 64, and we will have plenty of TVs on in the backroom for those of you who choose to extend the lunch hour. Lunch Mob is a great way to introduce prospective members to the Chamber, so we encourage all attendees to register a colleague or bring a friend.

Later this month, by constitution, New York State must pass a budget by April 1. While they have delivered a "late budget" in the past, we are encouraged that negotiations are underway. Still, we are keeping a close eye on an array of issues and how they may negatively affect business owners or impact the potential to attract future businesses to our state. We rolled out our Economic Development / Public Policy Agenda last month. I'd encourage every member to look at our agenda, as many of the issues we advocate come directly from our members.

I appreciate our members' understanding during this renovation period with our offices. We are doing our best to limit the interruption of service you expect from our Chamber. We are still available for those needing a Certificate of Origin and those who would like to discuss employee benefits. Please email us to set up an appointment, and remember my door is always open (even across the hall).

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