Chautauqua County Chamber Corner – May 13, 2012



Written by Todd J. Tranum, President & CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

For the past sixteen years, Dr. Dennis Hefner has been not only a fixture in Chautauqua County, but a force.  He has presided over the SUNY College at Fredonia with dedication and integrity, and has provided extraordinary leadership in the community as well.

For the Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Hefner was a key player in the formation of the countywide Chamber.  He was a staunch supporter of forming the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, and he served on its first Board of Directors.

As a SUNY Fredonia graduate who often returns to the campus for meetings, sporting events and entertainment, I look back over the years and can see and feel the positive change that has occurred during Dr. Hefner’s term.  Since my graduation, the student population has grown and the campus has become even more connected with the community. The campus itself has become a place where I have personally enjoyed walking with my children and viewing and interpreting the artworks that have been commissioned and installed. In addition, during Dr. Hefner’s tenure the campus has added a variety of amenities and facilities that reinforce its stature as a first class institution.

For SUNY Fredonia, Dr. Hefner not only had a vision, he also had the knowledge and skill to implement that vision.  Among his lasting legacies is the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, which is not only a treasure for the college but also an asset to the community as a whole.

One of the most critical steps that Dr. Hefner took to connect SUNY Fredonia to the community was the creation of the Technology Incubator. Recognizing that New Yorkers invest a lot of our money in educating students only to see them leave New York State, Dr. Hefner saw an opportunity to create a means of keeping our investment and these young minds in our community through the creation of the incubator. Leveraging the incubator to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit within the community and among the student body, as well as creating internship opportunities that align the learning potential of students with the needs of startup businesses, Dr. Hefner’s vision has created an extremely valuable economic development asset for the community.  With the foresight to build the Incubator off campus and in a downtown setting, the facility is also a cornerstone for economic revitalization in the City of Dunkirk.  The Technology Incubator will be counted among his lasting legacies.

Dr. Hefner has been much more than just a name on the door at SUNY Fredonia.  He has been involved in student life, knows students and faculty by name, and has been personally involved in many of the activities on campus.

In addition to his service with the Chamber of Commerce, he has been on numerous boards of directors and currently serves on the Board for the Lake Erie Regional Health System.

Thank you Dr. Hefner, we are proud to salute you and wish you all the best in your retirement.


Chamber members can get a close-up look at one of Chautauqua County’s newest wineries this week, during a Chamber Networking Mixer at 21 Brix Winery in Portland.  Very recently, 21 Brix was awarded a Value Added Grant from USDA to help bolster its wine-making and distribution avenues and to create jobs.  Chamber members are invited to learn more about the winery and how the grant funding will be used during this event, from 5:00 – 6:30pm on Thursday, May 17.

The Mixer is sponsored by Casella Waste Service, Jamestown Jammers, Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, the OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and WDOE/96KIX.  To register, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or visit our web site at


The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual County Executive’s Breakfast on Friday, June 1 at the Chautauqua Golf Club. County Executive Greg Edwards will make a brief presentation, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.  The Chamber hosts this event each year in order to provide an opportunity for the business community to hear directly from the County Executive and to exchange questions and share concerns.

The event is sponsored by:  Chautauqua Institution, Compeer, Crown Benefit Group, Cummins, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Jammers, Jamestown Mattress, KeyBank, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, Medicor Associates, Nestle Purina, NRG, OBSERVER, Phillips Lytle, The Post-Journal, Serta Mattress, SKF Aeroengine, and WCA Hospital.

The breakfast begins at 8:00am. The cost is $15 for Chamber members and $20 for non-members. To register, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or register on line at


The 2012 Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive continues through the month of May!

New members who join during the drive will be entered into a drawing for these prizes:  a Sapphire GEM sponsorship ($1,000 value), membership paid for the year (2013-14 dues), and two free Chamber event passes for the year ($216 value, excluding the Annual Banquet, Golf Tournament, and Community Chamber events).

If you have not been contacted by a volunteer yet and are interested in joining the Chamber, please email, visit our website at, or call one of our offices at 366-6200 or 484-1101.