By Kevin Hedley
I first became involved in the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce at the invitation or more accurately the insistence of Jessica Petraccione of First National Bank of Scotia. The Chamber had just formed its Twin Bridges Council and Jessica was the first person to lead it.
Forming the Twin Bridges Council was part of a larger effort to get more business owners with operations in Clifton Park, Halfmoon, and Mechanicville more involved in the Saratoga County Chamber.
Soon after getting involved in the Twin Bridges Council, I was approached about serving on the Saratoga County Chamber’s board of directors and a year or so later became the organization’s treasurer.
And here we are in 2020 and I’m the volunteer chair of the board of directors of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
One of the reasons the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is still thriving as it enters its 102nd year of operation is the fact that it has had tremendous volunteer and professional staff leadership.
The last five chairs of the board include Theresa Agresta of Allegory Studios, Brian Straughter of Turf Hotels, David Collins of D.A. Collins, Matt Jones of the Jones Firm and Valeri Muratori.
After my term as chair is over, I will be followed by Skip Carlson of the Saratoga Casino Hotel in 2021, Tara Pleat of Wilcenski & Pleat in 2022 and Amy Smith of Saratoga Arms Hotel, in 2023. That’s an extraordinary list of leaders. I am honored to call all of them my friend and humbled to be on this list with them.
Now here’s an interesting fact about the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce: In the last 50 years from 1970 to 2020, we’ve had just two presidents hired to lead our organization.
The current professional staff which guides and leads the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce on a daily basis collectively has over 140 years of experience in the Chamber industry. This consistency of volunteer and professional staff leadership combined with a sustained and focused mission is what makes the Saratoga County Chamber so effective.
Every day, our board of directors and professional staff is working to help our members to succeed, grow and thrive and to ensure Saratoga County is a great place to live, work and play.
Saratoga County today has a growing population, a growing economy, and a worldwide brand that attracts millions of visitors and new residents all four seasons of the year.
Leading and working alongside our partners in the public, private and impact sectors, we’ve helped create one of the most vibrant and enviable economies in the U.S. This position of strength makes our chamber an extremely effective advocate for important issues with local, regional and statewide impact.
In 2020, I want to see our Chamber do more than ever before to serve our members and to promote all of the communities across Saratoga County.
We now have professionally staffed offices in Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park. We’re working with local and regional partners to improve public transportation. In southern Saratoga County, we’re helping to build support among employers for a CDTA micro-transit program. To the north, we’re trying to support efforts to connect CDTA and Glens Falls transit bus lines to improve connections across Saratoga and Warren counties.
I also want to see the Chamber expand its partnerships with area educational institutions. We took a big step forward in this realm in 2019 when we launched the Saratoga County Institute for Management. This collaboration with SUNY Empire State College and the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corp. is teaching participating employees to be better leaders on the job.
Now we want to expand this partnership with area community colleges and explore options to do the same with our area’s high schools.
Improving public transportation. Creating training opportunities for area workers. Pulling out all of the stops to bring tourists in to Saratoga County. Providing leadership that is consistent, sustainable and effective.
Those are just a few of the actions we’re taking at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce in 2020 in keeping with our mission of sustaining Saratoga County’s economic success.
By Kevin Hedley