Brian Straughter, president of the Turf Hotels, is the new chairman of the board of directors of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce for 2018.
He will be recognized at the Chamber’s 100th anniversary dinner 6-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Saratoga City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. The presenting sponsor of the event is the Adirondack Trust Co.
The Chamber was founded in 1918 and organized its first dinner on June 7 of that year.
Nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend the event. Besides recognizing Straughter, the attendees will honor David Collins, of D.A. Collins Companies, who served as the chairman in 2017 and will continue to serve on the Executive Board as the immediate past chair.
Looking forward to 2018, Straughter said the Chamber wants to both celebrate 100 years of success and to get things done to move Saratoga County forward as well. Given his company’s ownership of two hotels in Saratoga Springs—the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Homewood Suites—Straughter will make use of his expertise to create a new research and development task force with members from the Chamber and the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau to help evaluate new markets and potential new amenities that will be required to increase group and leisure trips to Saratoga County to ensure demand for hotel rooms continues to grow.
“We also want to do everything we can to help local employers to fill local job openings,” added Straughter. “In 2018, we will continue to push for the construction of workforce housing at sites that are on bus routes and near employment centers so that more people can afford to live closer to where they work.
“The Chamber is also positioned through the work of its Health and Wellness Council and Veterans Business Council to promote Saratoga County as one of the healthiest places to live and one of the most Veteran friendly places to live helping us to attract new talent to the region.”
The Chamber recently published its own “Top 10 Accomplishments for 2017” on its website (www.saratoga.org) as a way to highlight the organization’s work during Collins’ tenure. At the top of the list, the Chamber noted how it celebrated the passage of bipartisan legislation signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as part of the state budget, to reprivatize NYRA as a nonprofit corporation.
“This was a signature accomplishment for us in 2017 because of the amazing leadership provided by Maureen Lewi, who chaired the Concerned Citizens group, and the dedication and perseverance of Sen. Marchione and Assemblywoman Woerner,” said Todd Shimkus, Chamber president. “Many thought we were crazy to take up this challenge but our board of directors led by David Collins understood just how important protecting the future of the Saratoga Race Course is to our region’s economy and our quality of life. Sometimes you have to make noise to get things done and this was definitely one of those times.”
Collins also led a delegation from the Chamber that visited the GlobalFoundries semiconductor manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany. While there, the delegation spent time learning how communities along the Elbe River have grown their local tourism economies.
“As a result of this trip and the leadership provided by David Collins, the Chamber is now talking with the state Canal Corporation to explore how the ideas learned from the communities along the Elbe River might be helpful here in Saratoga County,” said Straughter. “We also owe a debt of gratitude to David for his leadership helping us to secure a record 270 new members as part of the 2017 Membership Blitz and nearly 500 for the year.
“He contributed significant personal time to this effort understanding that membership in the Chamber is an investment in the future for all of us who want to see Saratoga County sustain our vitality.”
The chair-elect for 2018 will be Theresa Agresta of Allegory Studios. Other officers for the year include Kevin Hedley of Hedley & Co., vice chairman; and Jessica Petraccione, of First National Bank of Scotia, secretary.
The members elected to serve three-year board terms running through Dec. 31, 2020 include: Marianne Barker of Impressions of Saratoga, David Cummings of The Run at Saratoga, David DeMarco of Saratoga National Bank, Dr. Adam Favro of Turning Point Chiropractic, Art Johnson of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and the town of Wilton, Dan Wager of State Farm Insurance, Charles Wait Jr. of the Adirondack Trust Co. and Kim Ireland of National Grid.
Three members were appointed to serve a one-year term board. They areTara Pleat of Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC, Susan Halstead of Family Vision Care Center and John Rogan of Saratoga Eagle.
The other members who will continue to serve on the board are Shelly Amato of the Wesley Community, Raj Ghoshal of Polyset, Christianne Potts of DesignSmith Studios, Melissa Johnson of Target Distribution, Chad Kiesow of Stewart’s Shops; Kevin Soukup of GlobalFoundries, Cassie Fox of N. Fox Jewelers, Peter Goutos of CA Smith, John Bove of Bove Fuels, Theresa Skaine of Amanus Consulting and Skip Carlson of Saratoga Casino Hotel.
For more information about the Chamber and the centennial celebration, visit www.saratoga.org.