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CHAMBER MEMBERS CONSIDER FUTURE

Members of the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce debated the fate of the organization during an open meeting Wednesday night.

Gina Kron, president of the chamber, said the organization's 269 members received questionnaires to be returned by Jan. 31. The surveys will be tabulated by a task force and be used to make recommendations on the organization's future.

The need for the organization is being questioned in light of the recent merger of the Northern Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce and the Jamestown Area, which gave birth to the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce.

The questionnaire addresses issues such as whether an office is needed, staffing level and what services should be provided to members.

In answer to a question about whether the chamber should be dissolved, Kurt Maytum of DFT Communications said, "We will not close down the chamber without (the members') input."

Under the consolidation agreement that created the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 1, the Fredonia chamber would receive $10,000 per year for expenses.

Previously, the Fredonia chamber received $25,000 per year from the former Northern Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce, according to Sham Bahgat, former Fredonia Chamber of Commerce president. This money paid the rent at 5 E. Main St. and for a part-time executive director and other staff.

The Fredonia chamber is vacating its office space and the office equipment and information have been moved to the Chestnut Street home of the interim executive director, Robert Gloor. The phone number remains the same, 679-1565.

Many of the 35 people attending the meeting addressed the issue.

Some said the chamber markets the area to outsiders, which is a help to retailers such as gift shops and restaurants. One person suggested using the entire $10,000 for outside marketing.

Joseph Budzinski, president of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, said the organization may change the funding formula for local chambers after this year.

Former Mayor Charles St. George said a satellite office is needed downtown. The chamber is seeking volunteers for various proposed promotions, including Victorian Days and Taste of Fredonia.

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