Chamber Honors Community, Businesses
Chautauqua County’s business leaders, elected officials and community members gathered Thursday night at the Williams Center at the State University of New York at Fredonia for the annual Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.
Chamber Chairman Curt Anderson put a spin on a Sinatra classic and pronounced, “If you can make it in Chautauqua County, you can make it anywhere.” He thanked all for attending.
On the other hand, Todd Tranum, Chamber president/CEO, asked why audience members were here — but he clarified, not at the event or even on earth. More specifically he asked, “Why are we here in Chautauqua County?”
Tranum said the area needs an attitude adjustment and if anyone is here in the county with a mission of making it better, they need to keep one simple thing in mind.
“I share with you a very simple solution, a very simple word. It’s a word we should say to our friends, our families, our coworkers, our neighbors, our spouses, our children and grandchildren. It’s a word that we need to repeat to ourselves any time we become the dreaded naysayer. … It’s ‘believe.’ For many of us in this room it was because our forefathers and our foremothers believed in a better future (that we are here). … They believed and we must believe as well. Yes, we must believe that a North Chautauqua Water District will be a reality. We must believe that Athenex will break ground, creating new job opportunities. We must believe that NRG will be repowered. We must believe that the National Comedy Center will be built and draw hundreds of thousands of people to our community. … And we must believe that our manufacturing base that’s currently responsible for $5.1 billion in shipments and $420 million in payroll will experience a renaissance and will grow and again be the foundation of a strong middle class. And, most importantly, we must believe in ourselves, our capabilities, our capacities. Remember it takes people to move a community forward,” he said.
Some of those people moving Chautauqua County forward were honored with awards.
The Economic Development Award was given to Fieldbrook Foods, which recently completed an expansion project, retaining 485 jobs and adding 61 more in the city of Dunkirk.
“At Fieldbrook Foods we try to strive every day to live up to our motto: ‘The complete treat company.’ Being a complete treat company means we have to take care of our people, our consumers, our customers and our business. How we care for our business is a more visible part of what we do and from that we appreciate your recognition. We also strive every day to be a solid member of our community and being a very strong corporate citizen. We’re proud of our heritage of living and being a part of the Dunkirk and Chautauqua County community and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received,” President and CEO Robert D. Charleston said.
Community Service Awards were given out by each community chamber.
Dunkirk honored the late Carol Kozlowski for her career as a nurse at Brooks Memorial Hospital and continuing her involvement in the community, most notably with the Dunkirk Senior Center, after her retirement.
Her daughter, Laura Beehler accepted the award on her behalf, saying giving back was a part of her mother’s routine.
“Doing for others was the theme of my mother’s life,” she said.
For Fredonia, Todd Langworthy, Pomfret historian, was honored for his historical pursuits and his involvement in coaching school sports. Langworthy said an interest in history runs in his family and thanked them for their support.
Hanover’s awardee was Sue Briggs, who said she joined the chamber as a strategic move for her business, Destination Plus. She has remained a part of “the little chamber that could” for 25 years and accepted the award on behalf of all volunteers, especially for the annual villagewide yard sale.
Jamestown’s Community Service Award went to John Williams, parks manager for the city of Jamestown. Williams was unable to accept his award in person, but his friend Lee Harkness gave a resounding endorsement, saying, “I have been up at 3 a.m. setting up or tearing down for an event. No one is a harder worker.”
Longtime community volunteers Marion and Don Eno were the recipients of the Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber’s award. Marion said volunteering has led to deep friendships and that one of their proudest pursuits was establishing a fund in their late daughter, Brenda Rae’s name with the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.
Unlike the others, the Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber elected to honor the Chautauqua Lake Central School Manufacturers Club as their awardee. The club, which began as a lunchtime extra-curricular has taken on a life of its own and evolved into mainstream curriculum at the school.
The Chamber also emphasizes the need for manufacturing education with it’s Dream it Do It initiative. Anderson called the club “crucial” to that mission.
William Andrews, managing director/president and CEO of Monofrax LLC, was named Person of the Year. Tranum said he recalls the change in attitude at the Falconer manufacturing plant after Andrews took leadership. He also mentioned a dedication to the community and students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and manufacturing.
Andrews said he chose to stay in Chautauqua County because of the people, who at Monofrax, form a family. He said any success could not be achieved without his staff’s team work or his family’s support.
“These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Anderson concluded. “… Anything is possible; look at what these winners have been able to achieve.”