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Economic development efforts focus of Chamber’s annual meeting

December 17, 2015
By Jimmy McCarthy ( , Westfield Republican

JAMESTOWN - Upon becoming chief executive officer for the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Kevin Sanvidge quickly learned the focus wouldn't be to attract big-time manufacturers.

Instead, Sanvidge knew every avenue needed to be pursued in order to grow the county by retaining and attracting businesses and manufacturers, and growing tourism.

On Friday, Sanvidge provided an overview of the ongoing economic development during the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting at Moon Brook Country Club. Sanvidge, who was appointed to the post 18 months ago by County Executive Vince Horrigan, said retaining, expanding and attracting business to the area is vital.

Article Photos

Photos by Jimmy McCarthy
Kevin Sanvidge, chief executive officer for the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, addresses the 120 Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce members Friday afternoon at Moon Brook Country Club.

"Chautauqua County is an exciting place," he said. "When you look around at this beautiful county, tourism is going to be part of our future. We started last year with the Gran Fondo, and we had over 350 cyclists riding around Chautauqua Lake. It's only going to grow."

Speaking to the uncertainty of NRG, Sanvidge said the project "is not dead in the water" as officials diligently work to repower the plant.

"There's so many moving pieces. There's so many people working to make that happen," Sanvidge said. "I feel confident that when you get the right people together, it will happen."

The closure of ConAgra delivered a blow to the county with the loss of 400 jobs, but Sanvidge said officials worked hard to sell the Fredonia Carriage House facility. Work to restore manufacturing back to the ConAgra facility in Dunkirk continues. Sanvidge said the IDA is also working to develop the Lake Erie waterfront in Dunkirk.

"We need to develop the Dunkirk waterfront, and we're working with the city, marina and restaurant," he said. "We're close to having a deal where all the partners are together, and investors are going to put some shovels in the ground."

During the meeting, the 2015 Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award was presented to Dr. Susan McNamara, who is assistant professor of management at SUNY Fredonia.

The award, named in memory of the first president and CEO of the chamber, recognizes an individual or organization working to bring people together for a common goal to move the region forward.

McNamara, who teaches strategic management, organization behavior and entrepreneurship, is also the Fredonia Enactus team adviser. Enactus has grown to include students from 19 majors, and 130 local organizations have worked with business capstone students to solve strategic challenges.

"Our board was especially impressed with Dr. McNamara's work with Enactus," said Todd Tranum, president and CEO of the chamber. "We view Enactus as a way to bring together an array of student groups to work on current projects, while also developing leadership skills with a focus on service in a new generation of prospective business people."

The award included a $500 contribution to a nonprofit organization chosen by the winner. McNamara selected the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua to receive the donation.

"It so moved me to receive this because it honors Pam (Lydic), who was a friend, a colleague and a partner in trying to change and bring people together," McNamara said. "Both of us believe totally that we can make a difference when we work together. We spent a lot of time bringing people together. That's how we grow together as a whole. I believe that people can learn and grow, and that we're as good as we are as we support each other toward that growth."



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