Back to School — education and the community

As a summer packed full of great events and activities throughout Chautauqua County comes to a close, it is time for many in the community to get ready to return to school. County residents benefit greatly from the area’s educational system. The county is very fortunate in that it has solid primary and secondary educational institutions preparing children for the next steps in their lives. For those who want to pursue a college education in Chautauqua County there is a wide variety of opportunity. There are not many counties of this size that can boast about the presence of a community college, a private college, and a state university in their community. Yet, it is all here in Chautauqua County.

Education opens many doors in one’s life and is fundamental to a strong community. President John F. Kennedy stated, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” The great potential of the area’s human capital here in Chautauqua County must be harnessed in order to take on the county’s greatest challenges.

Education has a profound impact on the community and economy. Graduating from high school and completing post secondary education leads to increased productivity and higher wages. Local businesses benefit greatly from an educated workforce through increased earnings that result from increased productivity. These earnings are redistributed into the economy through wages, benefits and the purchase of goods and services.

There is also an important correlation between education and health, crime and unemployment. Those who attain an education tend to be healthier, which enhances the individuals quality of life and economic fortunes. In addition, better health places less stress on the community’s health care systems and social safety nets. Smoking, obesity rates and drug abuse are all impacted by education. Crime rates tend to be lower among an educated community, lowering costs associated with the criminal justice system.

Investment in human capital is fundamental to developing and maintaining a strong foundation in the community. Education improves employability and productivity and has profound impacts on society as whole. As children get ready to return to school, sign up for college classes, pay taxes or make preparations for the classroom, the community is making important contributions to the future of Chautauqua County.

Unique Chamber networking event Sept. 5

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to join with the Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber of Commerce to host a special end-of-season First Friday Networking Event on Sept. 5. Throughout the summer, the Westfield-Barcelona Chamber has been hosting First Friday networking opportunities throughout the village.

One of the factors that makes this Experience Chautauqua Networking Event unique is the location – the former Welch’s building in the heart of Westfield. Located at 2 S. Portage St., directly across the street from the iconic Lincoln-Bedell sculpture park, the long-time National Grape Cooperative building is now being marketed for re-use. This is a spectacular opportunity for local residents to see this building and learn about the opportunities to put this building to work once again.

The event is sponsored by Jamestown Jammers Baseball, Liazon Corporation, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. It will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and will include appetizers catered by Calarco’s in Westfield. The cost is $10 for pre-registered guests or $12 at the door. To register, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101 or register online at

Health insurance open enrollment dates announced

Each year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce holds a series of open enrollment meetings designed to explain options or plan changes to local business people who may be in the health insurance market. This year the Chamber has even more opportunities for both businesses and individuals to find a health insurance plan that will suit their needs.

These sessions will be held this year at the Chamber’s Jamestown office on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m.; then again in the Chamber’s Dunkirk office on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. The Chamber is in the process of making arrangements for some additional sessions as well. Current subscribers and all Chamber members will receive a notice in the mail outlining event dates and locations. Non-members are encouraged to check our website for details.

These important informational seminars will help business people understand their options in both the Bright Choices and New York state exchanges, and will include a review of any plan changes in Bright Choices for the coming year. The information may be especially significant for sole proprietors, who will have a number of options for health insurance coverage beginning in 2015.

The sessions are sponsored by KeyBank, Lawley Insurance and Univera Healthcare. They are free to attend, but the Chamber encourages all to register so that it can plan ahead for the number of attendees. Register online through the website at or by calling 484-1101 or 366-6200.