Chamber Corner

STEM education moves forward in Chautauqua County

By TODD TRANUM

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

There is no question that our area must put some additional focus on STEM education. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are critical for workforce development, as more and more businesses seek qualified people with STEM skills. Locally, we are working to help address this need through the formation of the new Chautauqua STEM Education Coalition.

The coalition is a partnership of education, business, economic and community leaders focused on enhancing STEM education opportunities in Chautauqua County. Its mission is to develop and implement solutions to meet the evolving workforce requirements of the community, with a focus on enhancing STEM educational opportunities. It was organized as an initiative of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and Dream It Do It Western New York. It developed through discussions with schools, local businesses and economic development entities.

We are very fortunate that Cummins, Inc. and the Cummins Foundation chose to take a leadership role in funding these efforts. Because of their financial support, the Coalition is able to hire a full-time director to shepherd projects that will enhance STEM education countywide, connecting our future workforce to careers in our community.

Dr. Peter Beeson brings a wealth of experience to his new role as Coalition Director, with a background in the sciences and technology that will benefit the entire region. He was most recently a research physical scientist with USDA in Maryland, serving in the Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory Agricultural Research Center. He earned his doctorate degree in civil and environmental engineering at Pennsylvania State University, where he also earned a master of science. He holds a bachelor of science degree in geology from Bates College. Dr. Beeson was previously a graduate research assistant at Pennsylvania State University and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He can be reached at the Chamber offices at 484-1101 or 366-6200.

Business health insurance issues always answered here

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce can assist any business with its health insurance and employee benefits needs. This is becoming critically important, as new aspects of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, and as New York state fully implements its new Health Benefit Exchange plan. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce was among the first in the state to offer a health insurance exchange program to its members, helping hundreds of local firms to contain costs while offering a broad array of benefit plans. We are also helping local businesses to understand and take advantage of tax credits they may be eligible for, in addition to educating them about changes that are pending.

If you have concerns or questions about health insurance needs for your business or your employees, call us at 484-1101 or 366-6200.

Make your voice heard for NRG

There is still time for you to make your voice heard on the proposed repowering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk. This critically important project would invest $700-million into Western New York to convert the coal-fired plant into a natural gas plant. It would improve the environment, preserve and create jobs and continue to provide electric power generation that is needed throughout New York state and the country. At the same time, it will help to preserve the tax base not only in the city of Dunkirk, but in all of Chautauqua County.

You can send comments to the state Public Service Commission by writing to: Chairman Garry A. Brown & Acting Secretary Jeffrey Cohen, NYS Public Service Commission, Agency Bldg. 3, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223. Please reference Case # 12-E-0577. In addition, you may send comments and concerns to Hon. Andrew Cuomo, Governor, New York state, Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224. If you prefer to email, you can find a link directly to the PSC’s comment page for this case on the Chamber’s website at www.chautauquachamber.org.

Experience Chautauqua with a County Fair preview

Once again this year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will provide its members with a preview of the Chautauqua County Fair. This special Chamber networking event is scheduled for Thursday, July 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

This event is sponsored for Chamber members by DFT Communications, Fredonia Place, GPI Greenman-Pederson, Jamestown Jammers Baseball, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, Nestle Purina PetCare, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal.

The cost is just $8 for pre-registered guests, or $10 for walk-ins. You can register online at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call the Chamber at 484-1101 or 366-6200.