Back To School — Education And Community

As a summer packed full of great events and activities throughout Chautauqua County comes to a close, it is time for many in our community to get ready to return to school. Our county’s residents benefit greatly from our educational system. We are very fortunate in that we have solid primary and secondary educational institutions preparing our children for the next steps in their lives. For those who want to pursue a college education in Chautauqua County we have a wide variety of opportunity. There are not many counties of our size who can boast about the presence of a community college, a private college, and a state university in their community. Yet, we have it all here in Chautauqua County.

Education opens many doors in our lives and is fundamental to a strong community. President John F. Kennedy stated “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” We must harness the great potential of our human capital here in Chautauqua County if we are to take on our greatest challenges.

Education has a profound impact on community and economy. Graduating from high school and completing post-secondary education leads to increased productivity and higher wages. Local businesses benefit greatly from an educated workforce through increased earnings that result from increased productivity. These earnings are redistributed into the economy through wages, benefits and the purchase of goods and services.

There is also an important correlation between education and health, crime and unemployment. Those who attain an education tend to be healthier, which enhances the individuals quality of life and economic fortunes. In addition, better health places less stress on the community’s health care systems and social safety nets. Smoking, obesity rates and drug abuse are all impacted by education. Crime rates tend to be lower among an educated community, lowering costs associated with the criminal justice system.

Investment in human capital is fundamental to developing and maintaining a strong foundation in our community. Education improves employability and productivity and has profound impacts on our society as whole. As we get our children ready to return to school, sign up for college classes, pay our taxes or make preparations for the classroom we are all making important contributions to the future of Chautauqua County.

Unique Chamber Networking Event Is Sept. 5

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to join with the Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber of Commerce to host a special end of season First Friday Networking Event on Friday, Sept. 5. Throughout the summer, the Westfield-Barcelona Chamber has been hosting First Friday networking opportunities throughout the village.

One of the factors that makes this Experience Chautauqua Networking Event unique is the location: the former Welch’s building in the heart of Westfield. Located at 2 S. Portage St., directly across the street from the iconic Lincoln-Bedell sculpture park, the longtime National Grape Cooperative building is now being marketed for re-use. This is a spectacular opportunity for local residents to see this building and learn about the opportunities to put this building to work once again in our county.

The event is sponsored by Jamestown Jammers, Liazon Corporation, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. It will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. and will include appetizers catered by Calarco’s in Westfield. The cost is just $10 for pre-registered guests or $12 at the door. To register, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101 or register online at

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Dates Announced

Each year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce holds a series of open enrollment meetings designed to explain options or plan changes to local business people who may be in the health insurance market. This year the Chamber has even more opportunities for both businesses and individuals to find a health insurance plan that will suit their needs.

These sessions will be held this year at the Chamber’s Jamestown office on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m.; then again in the Chamber’s Dunkirk office on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. We are in the process of making arrangements for some additional sessions as well. Current subscribers and all Chamber members will receive a notice in the mail outlining event dates and locations. Non-members are encouraged to check our website for details.

These important informational seminars will help business people understand their options in both the Bright Choices and New York state exchanges, and will include a review of any plan changes in Bright Choices for the coming year. The information may be especially significant for sole proprietors, who will have a number of options for health insurance coverage beginning in 2015.

The sessions are sponsored by KeyBank, Lawley Insurance and Univera Healthcare. They are free to attend, but we encourage all to register so that we can plan ahead for the number of attendees. You can register online through our website at or by calling 484-1101 or 366-6200.