National Comedy Center plans are a bright spot

Plans to build the National Comedy Center in downtown Jamestown have provided yet another reason for Chautauqua County to stand up and take a bow. When this project comes to fruition it is expected to host 120,000 visitors a year, and to create a $26 million economic impact on our region. Those figures are impressive, but are conservative by all estimates.

While the project is still in the planning phases, we are incredibly encouraged by the level of detailed homework that has been done, and the bye-in from some heavy hitting names in the world of comedy as well as the financial investment from regional foundations.

With extraordinary leadership from the Board of Directors of the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy, a thorough master plan has been completed for the new attraction. The plan outlines an experiential attraction and performance venue that go far beyond what would be considered merely just a comedy hall of fame. While the center would pay tribute to the legends of comedy, it would also lead visitors on a tour of comedy as we know it and provide a platform for comedy education and the development of up-and-coming performers in the comedic arts. The center is to be an outgrowth of the newly refurbished Gateway Train Station in Jamestown and will incorporate the existing and architecturally-rich BPU substation at the corner of West Second and Washington streets.

Especially encouraging is the level of investment already flowing to the project. The Oishei Foundation in Buffalo and the Gebbie Foundation in Jamestown have committed to launching site work this year with the development of the Gateway Park between the Train Station and the Chadakoin River. Part of the Jamestown Riverwalk Park system, this section will include an outdoor plaza, a pedestrian railroad crossing, and substantial landscape improvements to tie it into the future development of the Comedy Center.

Funding for the National Comedy Center will come from a combination of private and public sources including foundations, state and federal grants, corporate sponsorships, and contributions. In order to ensure its long-term sustainability, an endowment will be established even before construction begins.

Make no mistake: this is a huge project. Yet we are certain that the pieces are in place to make it a reality. For their outstanding work on this project so far, and for all of the work still pending, we applaud Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy, and its entire board of directors under the leadership of board President Tom Benson. We look forward to more exciting news as this project unfolds.

Social media learning opportunities for business

Social media has quickly become a major driver for business communications. There are a couple of opportunities in the coming month to learn about LinkedIn for business and one for Google AdWords.

The Small Business Development Center and the Continuing Education Center at Jamestown Community College will offer two sessions of How to Build Profitable Relationships Using LinkedIn. The first session will be held Wednesday, March 12 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on the Jamestown campus. The second session of the same class will be a special offering through the Chamber of Commerce Business Over Bagels series and will be held Thursday, March 27 at 8:30 a.m. in the JCC North County Training Center, Dunkirk.

This class is tailored to using LinkedIn to help grow your business by creating a profile that works, making quality connections, finding leads, and starting or joining a LinkedIn group or company page. You are encouraged to bring a tablet or smart phone to enhance your learning experience. The instructor for both of these sessions is Curt Anderson, a business adviser at NYS SBDC at JCC. He is an E-Commerce and Internet marketing consultant. He has been an entrepreneur for 23 years including 17 years in E-commerce. He is passionate about internet marketing and how it can help you reach out to new customers that you might not have reached through conventional marketing techniques.

The Chamber’s Business Over Bagels session is being sponsored by the SBDC, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, JCC’s North County Campus, and the Chamber of Commerce and is offered at a special price point. To register for the Dunkirk class at the special Business Over Bagels price of just $10 per person call 716-363-6585. To register for the Jamestown LinkedIn session at $20 per person, call 716-338-1024.

Using Google AdWords for Faster Lead Generation will show you how you can bring quality traffic to your website in minutes, and turn it into leads. This course will be conducted on Wednesday, March 19 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on JCC’s Jamestown campus. It will be taught by Josh Curcio, the owner of Protocol 80 in Bradford, one of the regions only Google Partners. For more information or to register for the Google AdWords course, call 716-338-1024.

Chamber State Legislative Breakfast April 11

Each year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities for its members to have a direct conversation with elected officials from each level of government. This year, the State Legislative Breakfast will be held April 11 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club, 433 East Terrace Avenue, Lakewood.

State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell will provide their insights about legislation in Albany, and be available for questions from the audience.

This event is sponsored by DFT Communications, Double A Vineyards, Fredonia College Foundation, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Mattress Company, KeyBank, Nestle Purina PetCare, Serta Mattress Company, WCA Hospital, and WJTN/WWSE/WKSN/WHUG/WQFX WJTN. The cost to attend is just $18 per person. To register call the Chamber at 484-1101 or 366-6200 or visit the Chamber web site at