Thursday, 19 December 2019 12:57

Notes from the Chamber of Commerce: This Chamber Changes Things

By Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce | Business
Photo provided. Photo provided.

When Theresa Agresta, the owner of Allegory Studios and CultureTalk, became the Chair of the Saratoga County Chamber’s Board of Directors earlier this year, she wanted our Chamber to do more than ever before for small business owners.

As a small business owner herself, she had a sense that business owners would value an opportunity to meet up to share their concerns, ideas and challenges privately with one another. 

So we established a new Business Owners Council and invited owners to meet up with one another once a month, at the Chamber.

We then invited local experts to these meetings to talk about employee benefits, cash flow projections, how to manage charitable giving, new sexual harassment training laws, developing sales goals, etc.

The creation of this new member benefit is a big accomplishment for the Chamber in 2019. 

This Council now meets on the first Tuesday, of every month, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Chamber. 

Our goal will be to increase participation and to continue to bring in speakers on issues of relevance to local small business owners.

This accomplishment is a direct result of the leadership being provided by volunteers with the Chamber, like Theresa Agresta. 

On January 23, 2020, our Chamber will host our 102nd Annual Dinner. We will honor Theresa Agresta and other volunteer leaders for their service to the chamber and this community. 

Our Annual Dinner is also a time for our members and the community to celebrate all of the Chamber’s accomplishments from 2019 and to look ahead to 2020.

Now there is no way we can celebrate every accomplishment.

But there are three that demonstrate how our Chamber changes things for the benefit of our members and all of the communities we serve across Saratoga County.

For starters, we built a Field House for the benefit of US Navy Sailors and their families stationed in Saratoga County, on the US Navy’s Naval Support Activity Center base, in Saratoga Springs. 

The funding came via a grant secured by former State Senator Kathy Marchione. After working with local Navy leaders to determine what to build with these funds, the Chamber hired Munter Enterprises to build this 7,700 square foot facility. 

Now US Navy Sailors stationed in Saratoga County have a first-ever safe, secure, on-base, indoor location to play volleyball or basketball; to host graduations, movie nights, and educational workshops; to drill and to prepare so that they can succeed in all of their missions.

In 2019, we created the Saratoga County Institute for Management in collaboration with SUNY Empire State College. 

With the support of the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corporation, we were able to offer scholarships to small businesses and nonprofits so they could participate in the Institute’s classes. 

From scratch really, we had to create new curriculum, secure expert presenters, oversee the 21 classes, and support the participants and their employers who sponsored them. 

Graduates of the Institute will be better leaders within their organizations thereby helping these companies and nonprofits to succeed, grow and thrive.

In 2019, our community came together like never before to create ONE online community calendar. To get this done, we had to collaborate with Mannix Marketing, Discover Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs DBA, Skidmore College and the Saratoga Springs City Center. 

Now with one online events calendar in place, event organizers can enter information on any one of our seven top performing local websites and that information feeds to all of them. 

The goal is to make it easier for event organizers to promote their events and for people to find them.

And if you’d like to learn more about the many other accomplishments we had in 2019, we invite you to visit www.saratoga.org or to attend our Annual Dinner. 

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