The Story Behind The Genesee County Chamber
By: Steven Falitico
August 2nd, 1971
“The Batavia Area Chamber of Commerce believes that a county-wide chamber, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, provides the most efficient and sensible means of furthering the economic, political and social growth of this county in a planned and controlled manner.
The erosion of home rule and the growing encroachment in political and planning affairs of municipalities by federal and state governments makes it more important than ever to provide area-wide programs, planning and action in those fields of activity in which The Chamber is involved.
Faced with the practical realities of area planning concepts and aware that effective and efficient planning and growth cannot be contained and hampered by the archaic and arbitrary boundaries, The Batavia Chamber of Commerce believes that an area-wide Genesee County Chamber of Commerce should now be formed.”
Proposed by William F. Brown Jr. of a task force on a county chamber, moved by Mr. Vito J. Gautieri and seconded by Mr. Thomas H Cashin.
This excerpt brazenly transposed from official Chamber letterhead into a 2022 blog post, is meant to give you a proper intro to the history of our local Chamber.
In 1971, business leaders like John Dwyer, Bill Brown and Tom Cashin, came together to consolidate and connect the communities of Genesee County. The principle of a county-wide Chamber was something that was already being embraced in other upstate NY communities and The Batavia and Le Roy Chambers strongly endorsed this same type of initiative in our county.
Your average person may not know but back in the day Chambers of Commerce were power players in the economic and social development of our country. Ever heard of “The Boston Tea Party”? Fun Fact: organized by the Boston Chamber of Commerce. In essence, chambers are a business network of local organizations formed by business owners to advocate on behalf of local communities. Chambers range in size from community, to state-wide, to even national chambers. They all share the similarity of promoting, supporting and connecting the business communities they each represent.
In Genesee County, before 1971, there were two primary Chambers: The Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the Le Roy Chamber of Commerce. Setting competitiveness aside, the Board of Directors of these two chambers agreed that a county-wide chamber was both warranted and necessary.
Meeting in “neutral territory” (The Red Osier and Stafford Country Club) the groups of business people from these two communities decided on a merger. As seen underlined in red on the official transcripts, “we will not be LeRoy/Batavia.” , meaning a balance of representation from the remainder of the county would also be involved in The Chamber.
“Employment opportunities do not know town, village or city lines. The roads and highways of the county are more like streets in a larger community, than byways to one place to another.” In a way these “Chamber Founders” were some of the first movers on the consolidation efforts seen across the GLOW region today.
On July 10th, 1972 The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce was founded on an idea of a county wide community, meant to bring together people from all aspects of industry and business.
These people would work together to promote a more vibrant local economy across the towns and villages of the county.
A county-wide Chamber, would embrace and replace the present Le Roy and Batavia chambers and would extend its representation to the remainder of Genesee County. This would be a major improvement on the current model and a more efficient use of resources for local businesses.
Fifty years later… The Chamber is still holding true to those values. Working continuously to advocate on behalf of the local business environment, and improve the quality of life for both residents and businesses of Genesee County.
The idea of a harmonious county-wide support system is an idea that requires constant attention and we at The Chamber take pride in being the leaders of that community partnership.
The evolution of society has made us something different than what we once were. However, with our team of local and inspired individuals we believe we are maintaining the vision bestowed upon us.
With over 500 local organizations involved, the Genesee County Chamber is still a valued community asset and will continue to grow and prosper into the future.
Thank you to the local businesses and to the community for believing in our mission of a brighter Genesee County! Without you 50 years wouldn’t have been possible!
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