Date ArticleType
6/19/2017 Chamber News
The Voice of Main Street

Over the past six weeks our Chamber team has walked the streets of seven communities in Chautauqua County, including Dunkirk, Fredonia, Hanover, Jamestown, Lakewood, Mayville/Chautauqua and Westfield/Barcelona. We have had meetings with over one hundred small businesses. Our purpose was to hear the voices of our county’s small businesses, understand their challenges and gain perspective on what they see as their opportunities. Our Mornings on Main coffee hours created opportunities for our staff and volunteers to have meaningful engagement with local businesses to better understand how to best align the Chamber of Commerce services and resources with the needs of businesses.

We sincerely appreciate the time that many business owners took out of their busy schedules to spend a few minutes with us. We have many dedicated and hard-working business owners in our county and our hats are off to them for their hard work day in and day out.

We heard what our small businesses had to say and we are committed to doing everything in our power to take action on the issues that matter the most to them. The consistent themes we heard from small businesses across the county was the need for more foot traffic into their establishments with the hope of increased sales. Many small businesses are having challenges finding the workforce they need. Several small business voiced concerns regarding the costs of doing business, specifically worker’s compensation costs. Many communities continue to have store fronts that are available, this was a concern voiced by the small businesses that neighbor these properties. Across the board, these small business owners articulated that they see opportunity and potential within their businesses and their communities.

It is clear that our organizational structure of having viable community chambers is imperative to helping facilitate foot traffic into main street businesses and main street conversations among businesses. We must continue to invest in technology that helps increase the visibility of our members on the internet and through social media platforms. We must continue to reinforce our ‘buy local, ShopTauqua’ message. We must continue to build upon and invest in promotional activities such as Small Business Saturday, Restaurant Week and National Small Business Week.  Importantly we must continue to drive referrals to our local businesses.

We remain committed to advocating for small business in an effort to reduce the structural costs of doing business. Our journey, which by the way never ends, was enlightening and insightful. Again, we thank our small businesses for their investment in the Chamber of Commerce and the work they do to make our communities even better.

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