By Todd Tranum
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
The turnout for a state Public Service Commission public hearing this past week was amazing! An estimated 2,000 people from all walks of life and all parts of Chautauqua County flooded the Williams Center at SUNY Fredonia to support the repowering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk. The attendance strongly demonstrates the importance of this project to our county, our businesses, and our people.
NRG has two options ahead. It can either close its aging coal fired plant along Lake Erie, or it can convert it into a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly natural gas-powered plant. The $700 million investment would create jobs and sustain critically important power production in Western New York. In addition, NRG is the single largest taxpayer in Chautauqua County.
The PSC is required to consider a number of issues in making this determination. Those issues naturally include electric rates, power capacity and need, and transmission capabilities. And now, because of new legislation supported by Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, the PSC must also consider the economic impact on a community when a decision is being made to shut down power plants.
The throngs of people who flooded the public hearing last week clearly demonstrate that the community wants and needs the NRG plant to be converted to natural gas. Mothballing the facility would be a huge blow to the city of Dunkirk, the Dunkirk school system, and all of Chautauqua County.
If you attended the hearing and did not get a chance to speak, you can still make your voice heard. The public comment period has been extended to Aug. 16. The PSC will take written comments, or you can go to their website and enter your comments online. A link to the direct case page can be found on the Chamber's website at www.chautauquachamber.org.
We sincerely thank everyone who turned out for this critically important hearing at SUNY Fredonia. It was heartwarming to see business people alongside laborers, senior citizens next to young people, and democrats beside republicans, all fighting for the same cause. We can and do stand as a single county when the stakes are high.
Big prizes in the Aspire/Chamber event with the Jammers
For the second year in a row, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Aspire and the Jamestown Jammers to provide a very special event in August. Tickets are on sale now for a chance to win one of two incredible prizes: a weekend getaway to Pittsburgh including tickets to the Sept. 14 Pirates game, or a 60-inch Vizio LED TV. The weekend trip prize package also includes an overnight VIP stay at any Pittsburgh Red Roof Inn and a $100 Visa gift card. You can purchase raffle tickets at the Chamber office, 512 Falconer St., Jamestown or at the Aspire office, 140 Mall Blvd., Lakewood. The winner will be drawn at the Jammers game Aug. 2. Get your ticket now for a chance to win one of these great prizes!
Chamber Golf Tournament Aug. 15
The 2013 Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament will be held Thursday, Aug. 15 at Peek'n Peak. This year's event offers golfers a chance to play on the Peek's Upper Course - a championship caliber course which offers optimum playing conditions in a spectacular setting. In addition, each team can choose whether they want to play a scramble or a two best ball format this year. The Chamber Golf Tournament is being sponsored this year by DFT Communications, Community Bank NA, Cummins, Inc., Fredonia Place, GHD Consulting Engineers, Greater Woodlawn FCU, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas, Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. For more information or to register, visit the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call 484-1101 or 366-6200.
Chamber Gift Checks Now Accepted at Dunkirk Farmers Market
The Dunkirk Farmers and Artisans Market now accepts Chautauqua Chamber Gift Checks! If you have Chamber Gift Checks you can use them there to shop for fresh, local foods and unique goods, while also supporting our community.
The Market is open two days a week at Memorial Park in Dunkirk. Sponsored by D & F Travel, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and the Dunkirk Community Chamber of Commerce, the market will operate Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 25 will feature a special face painting event for kids at the market as well as a Woodbury wine tasting for adults. For more information about the market, call the Dunkirk Community Chamber at 366-6200.
Business health insurance issues always answered here
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce has a long history of assisting the business community with its health insurance needs. In fact, as federal and state requirements change, the Chamber is still poised to provide the best options for both employers and employees. With pending implementation of New York state's new Health Benefit Exchange Plan and of the Affordable Care Act, many businesses and employees may have questions about possible changes in their health insurance. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce can help answer all business questions. The Chamber has a long history of providing a broad array of benefit plans that help to contain costs, and has helped hundreds of businesses over the past year understand how the ACA affects their business. The Chamber remains a trusted, local and experienced source for all business health insurance information and services. Call for more information at 366-6200 or 484-1101.