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Chamber To Restart Jamestown Ambassador Program

From left, are Sheila Webster, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce director of marketing & communications; Denise Szalkowski, coordinator for the Fredonia Community Chamber; Dan Heitzenrater, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO; Carrie Swanson, coordinator for the Jamestown Community Chamber and administrative assistant; Becky Voty, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce director of member services; Anna Kelley, coordinator for the Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber; Shannon Biekarck, coordinator for the Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber; and Dave Kleparek, coordinator for the Dunkirk and Hanover Community Chambers. Submitted photo

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is planning to relaunch the Jamestown Ambassador Program to further engage the city’s business community.

The Jamestown Ambassador Program was previously managed by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.

“Over the years, we did the Jamestown Ambassador Program,” Frank Besse, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation urban core director, said. “Its goal was to get more information to front-line workers and in hospitality, so they knew more about our community, things like that. We’re kind of passing the torch to the Chamber with that.”

Dan Heitzenrater, CEO and president of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, told The Post-Journal that the chamber is working to “revamp” and “relaunch” the Jamestown Ambassador Program this year. He explained that under the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, the program helped educate business owners and employees regarding different local places for people to “go and dine and see.”

“We are looking to try to take the framework that they had created, look at ways that we can maybe increase the effectiveness and the education portion and we’re hoping to roll that out this year,” he said. “We’re really excited about that so that all of our front-line workers downtown, whether it’s at a restaurant or at an attraction or at a retail store, we can really create a good atmosphere to give our visitors and our residents the best experience possible.”

Heitzenrater said the relaunch of the Jamestown Ambassador Program will “broaden” the program so that it will be an educational component for a business’s full staff team. While Heitzenrater said the Chamber is still “pretty early” in the process of designing the program, the Chamber is envisioning a “blend” of video content and an in-person aspect of the educational program.

“Obviously, we understand the challenges that all of our small business owners face with the time commitment, so we’re hoping that we might be able to develop like 15-minute huddles or something like that, where we could go to a business and all we’re going to take is 15 minutes of their time, but we’re going to make that as effective and educational as possible,” he said.

After a Jamestown business completes a certain amount of video and in-person educational pieces, Heitzenrater said the business would be given the title of “Jamestown Ambassador.” As the Chamber continues working on the Jamestown Ambassador Program, Heitzenrater said his team is considering ways of displaying the Jamestown Ambassador title at local businesses so that visitors and local residents would easily be able to identify local businesses that have received the title and can serve as a good resource of information about the community.

Heitzenrater emphasized the potential for the Jamestown Ambassador Program to improve the customer service component of Jamestown businesses.

“I think at the most basic level it’s customer service,” he said. “Good customer service for our visitors means good customer service for our residents as well.I think if anybody has traveled and thinks back to the places where they have the best travel experience, I think it’s where you also have had the best customer service experience in many cases.”

Heitzenrater explained that the Jamestown Ambassador Program will enable local businesses to be able to have better interactions with visitors and local residents by providing them with helpful information about surrounding businesses, attractions and destinations in Jamestown.

“Rather than going to the front desk person at the hotel or the person at the coffee shop and getting a response of ‘Well, I don’t really know where you can get that or you already saw this attraction, I don’t know where else you should go,” that person can very quickly and easily give a recommendation of another local place,” he said. “Not only does that provide good customer service, but it also spreads around that customer foot traffic too.”

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