BATAVIA — A half-century is around the corner for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

As part of its annual luncheon, held Thursday, chamber President Erik Fix devoted part of his presentation to looking to the future.

Looking to 2022, Fix said there are some fantastic things happening for the chamber.

“First and foremost, it marks our 50th year of existence for the Genesee County Chamber,” he told community leaders and representatives. “On Nov. 17, 1972, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the Le Roy Chamber of Commerce realized that they were stronger if they were together and while they do that, they should bring the rest of Genesee County together. Lo and behold, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce was formed. If you think we’re not going to celebrate, you don’t know us very well.”

Fix said the chamber has three major events to kick off the 50th anniversary.

“We’re going to have a ribbon-cutting/open house at the chamber Jan. 20. We’re going to have a Founding Fathers reception at GO ART! on April 27. That’s an opportunity for our past Board of Directors, our past presidents, and the men and women who helped shape the first 50 years to come together and enjoy some camaraderie ...” he said. Of course, we’re going to have our Golden Anniversary Bonanza Blowout Celebration in October 2022, which we’re still working out the final details of now. That’s going to wrap up and put a bow on our 50th year.

The chamber has many events scheduled, Fix said, in addition to its typical events such as its awards ceremony in March, golf outings and the return of the Home Show. The Home Show is set for April 8 to 10 at the Batavia Ice Arena.

Other events for 2022 include working with Genesee Community College and the GCEDC to revamp the Startup Genesee Program.

They also include planning a destination assessment to help the chamber see the county from an outsider’s view for what outsiders are looking for in the county, where the gaps are and what the county can do to promote itself better. And a countywide rebranding initiative to bring synergy among the municipalities and community business leaders.

Fix talked about as the chamber website and as the tourism website.

“We’ve launched a new podcast this year called ‘Behind The Business,’ which gives us an opportunity each month to interview two people in our community and find out what makes them tick and what makes their business what it is. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Fix said he and Membership Development Director Steven Falitico conduct “Behind the Business” at GO ART!.

“It’s just a good opportunity to hear more about our local businesses and support them,” Fix said.

Fix said the chamber has had a successful year, supporting local businesses through its event calendar and on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The chamber’s Facebook page has 9,000 views, over 2,300 reach on Instagram, and there have been 4,000 views on YouTube.

“Our tourism website, alone ... had over 150,000 visitors that counted for over 250,000 ... views. That’s a quarter of a million people looking to our website,” he said.

This fall, the chamber filmed two videos — one was for the city of Batavia, promoting the restaurants the city has and the other was for the village of Le Roy as a tourism destination. The Batavia video was seen by about 35,000 people on social media and the Le Roy video by about 22,000, he said.

While the U.S. Canadian border was closed due to COVID-19, the chamber worked harder than ever to encourage in-state travel to the county.

“We advocated for folks to shop locally and utilize downtown to keep the local economy ... vibrant,” Fix said.

Fix said the impact of tourism this year will be roughly $130 million for Genesee County.

“That’s a number that’s slightly down from pre-pandemic, but it’s $35 million more than what we saw in 2020. We continue to refer people to our chamber member businesses and highlight the events that go on with those businesses,” he said.

The chamber has collaborated with partners such as the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) and Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) to ensure that businesses were able to apply for COVID-related funding.

“COVID forced us to rethink how we do things and what we do,” Fix said. “We’re definitely interested in finding different ways we can support our businesses locally. Our staff volunteer at COVID testing/vaccination clinics. We distributed, I don’t even know how many cases of hand sanitizer to local businesses. We continue to offer monthly workshops and trainings, and work to assist our local businesses seeking out employees.”

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