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Working Together Toward A Better Tomorrow

A lot has changed in 2020. COVID-19 has caused modifications to the way we live. The impact is not only being felt in Chautauqua County. Life has changed all around the world. Schools have closed. Businesses have closed. People have lost their jobs or have been furloughed. Some places we love to visit, like gyms, museums, and amusement parks, are shuttered indefinitely. Many of the events we enjoy have been postponed, some for a full year. Others, like ball games, are starting to be played, but in empty stadiums.

As a result of all this disruption and uncertainty, business owners and investors are putting some new projects on the back burner, waiting to see how things play out. This has led to much handwringing about the economy. Many wonder if it will ever bounce back or, when it does, what that will look like.

In any case, in Chautauqua County, it is important to remember that there has been plenty of good news lately.

Deluxe has completed Season 5 of the Small Business Revolution on schedule. They could not have found a better time to help small businesses figure out how to survive. The television program, when released in November, will also provide great advertising for Chautauqua County.

Accolades have recently been bestowed on the National Comedy Center. It won the “Best New Museum” designation in the country when the 2020 USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards were announced. The National Comedy Center was one of only 20 new museums nominated for that award.

On top of those big wins, just last month, the Town of Chautauqua was voted America’s “Best Small-Town Cultural Scene” by a panel of experts from USA Today. We beat out nominees like Taos, New Mexico, and Saratoga Springs, New York, in that contest.

There’s no doubt Chautauqua County is truly a great place to live, work, and play.

Despite the challenges facing the area, community members continue to rally together in pursuit of a common goal – economic prosperity. This type of collaboration, also known as collective action, enhances the condition of communities through people working together to achieve common objectives.

In looking at what needs to happen to keep the area growing in the right direction, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s (NCCF) Local Economic Development (LED) committee has been examining the area’s current economic climate and discussing what it will take to progress. Not only does our community need to support existing businesses, but there also continues to be a need to draw new businesses to the area, and encourage entrepreneurship and private sector growth. There is also a great need to support local municipalities. Many, if not all, may lose significant revenue as a result of COVID-19 fallout. The LED has been discussing what it will take to help them address budget shortfalls they may face.

Movement forward will likely also involve working on infrastructure problems and modifying future development plans. It might include encouraging more consolidation or regionalization of services like water, sewer, and policing, for example. It may involve looking at current land use and zoning. It could include expanding broadband access and encouraging more green energy projects. In any case, a more regional approach will likely be necessary.

As we move forward through these challenging times, it also makes sense to consider all of Chautauqua County. For too long, people have identified the northern and southern ends of Chautauqua County as separate entities. It is long past time we all come together to encourage the leadership and share the resources our county offers to make sure the entire county flourishes.

Whatever is decided, the LED may fill in some gaps, working to solve issues impacting Northern Chautauqua County. The LED will also work collaboratively with like-minded people on countywide initiatives.

Keep in mind, the NCCF LED has made a big difference in northern Chautauqua County in the past. There are plenty of people in Chautauqua County who are determined to make sure our local economy survives this storm and comes out the other end thriving.

Patty Hammond is Economic Development Coordinator at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The Local Economic Development (LED) Initiative is a standing committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF). Send comments or suggestions to Patty Hammond at phammond@nccfoundation.org

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