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Message from A.J. Baynes: April 2024

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

What an incredible time in Western New York. Later this afternoon, we will have the first total solar eclipse pass through our region in almost one hundred years. A ton of preparation went into this over the past two years. I applaud Visit Buffalo Niagara for ensuring that our region was shown in the best possible light in the lead-up to a moment of actual darkness at 3:18pm. If anyone was out and about in the area this weekend, there is no doubt you saw and felt the excitement around the city. The number of out-of-state license plates driving around and the people walking around was truly remarkable for this once-in-a-generation event. I hope everyone takes time today to enjoy the moment with loved ones, neighbors, and friends.

The Chamber continues to prepare to welcome our members back to our offices in the next few weeks as construction of our office space is well underway. As previously mentioned, we have doubled the size of the conference room; we will update our technology offerings and encourage all our members to take advantage of this space. We will still have a small conference room for those who wish to meet their clients in a more intimate setting without the need for technology. Our team is excited to bring ProNet back to the office and finally bring our Emerging Business Leadership Program into our space.

Along with these office changes, we are also updating our Small Business Awards Luncheon and Showcase. This year, our event is moving up the street to a more centralized location at Salvatore's Italian Gardens on Thursday, July 18. The Salvatore family has been a longtime member of the Chamber and is excited to help us promote our incredible small businesses in this area. We have enjoyed tremendous growth with this event over the years, with over 50 showcase tables for our over 400 attendees and members to visit throughout the luncheon. The Small Business Awards luncheon is an event that goes to the root of what the Chamber is all about: fostering the growth and promotion of our business community. If there is a company you feel deserves recognition, please click here; we will have many more details and announcements to follow about this event next month.

I want to thank Daemen University for hosting our Emerging Business Leadership Symposium last month. Daemen has been an incredible partner for the Chamber, and we can't thank them enough for allowing us to work with professors and leaders from their Business School who spent the day with our members to provide insight into a variety of ways that we can all build stronger teams, and exploiting our personality traits to become better leaders. Our EBL Symposium was an open event for our entire membership, and if you have not looked into our EBL program, I'd encourage you to learn more by clicking here.

The Chamber networking events have been on fire lately. Turnout for Lunch Mob and Business After Hour each month continues to climb. We have prided ourselves in providing our members plenty of opportunities to network in more casual settings at different times throughout the day while showcasing various parts of our region. Last month, The Irishman hosted us for Lunch Mob with over 50 people in attendance, and we co-branded our Business After Hours in the new Town of Amherst community center in the Northwest part of town with Horizon Health, Sweet Home Schools, and SUNY Erie and had an incredible turnout that evening. This Wednesday, we have lunch at a historic village restaurant in Williamsville, The Eagle House. This restaurant has nearly 200 years of history in our community, and the current owners, the Hanny family, are proud to carry on past traditions. Please find time to join us for Lunch Mob this Wednesday April 10th; you can register by clicking here. If you can't make it out of the office for lunch, I hope you will consider joining us at WingNutz on Tuesday, April 16, for Business After Hours. We recently cut the ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the first brick-and-mortar location for WingNutz, and we're thrilled they have offered to host us for a Business After Hours event. We will be in their "Room 40" space, sampling wings and other incredible menu offerings. We encourage members to bring a colleague or a friend to see what networking at the Chamber is all about.

Our women’s professional group, LIFT, is holding a Women’s Golf Clinic at Golf Dojo with their golf expert on Wednesday, May 15th. Networking, golf lesson and fundamental learning with many giveaways (including an overnight stay at Batavia Downs!) and food and drink provided by 500 Pearl will ensure this event will sell out fast. Reserve your spot today here.

As of this writing, New York State still lacks a budget for its fiscal year of 2024-2025. According to the state constitution, the state must pass a budget no later than April 1; however, instead of a budget, it has passed budget "extenders" to ensure the government does not shut down. The Chamber maintains a close eye on the budget process and is focused primarily on avoiding public policy making its way into the budget process, which should be only for how government is funded and operated. Hopefully, this next week, we will have a clearer picture of when this process will wrap up.

While we continue to make our way through the year, and even though we are working in temporary office space, please know our team is here for any questions or concerns that you may have. Our benefits team is active in ensuring you and your employees have the right coverage, and our membership team is fully engaged in making sure we do not miss an opportunity to help promote and grow your business. Please remember my door is always open.

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