While the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism Department works or collaborates with the Industrial Development Agency, and Economic Development and Business Center, they are an entity of their own within county government.
But, it wasn’t until 2010 when the Chamber and Tourism departments merged.
“Each division can do things the other can't and by working together we can get more accomplished to better serve the community and keep the money local,” said Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism President Scott Gardner. “It grows a stronger infrastructure to elevate the tax base.
“If you don't tell your story, you’ll lose the customers. That's the point of marketing. With all the types of businesses and stuff to do here it's all about marketing and promoting the area. We give them the ‘why’ to want to be here.”
Part of the department’s collaboration includes working with the Wyoming County Rural Arts Initiative. The initiative will fund start-up and expansion expenses, entrepreneurial training, live/work space, marketing support, and opportunities to share equipment and supplies. Artists in all media were able to apply for the grant as long as they “will work at their craft in Wyoming County.”
The Wyoming County Rural Arts Initiative is a project endorsed by the Wyoming Board of Supervisors and is in collaboration with the Wyoming County Department of Planning and Development, Arts Council of Wyoming County, Wyoming County Chamber and Tourism, Wyoming County IDA, and the NYS Council on the Arts.
“It’s going to be good for our downtown and Main Street. While the (Arts) initiative is working with getting the businesses here, we are looking at how we can promote it. It’s all about getting people here and getting them to locate here.”
Each department has its own website, a travel guide or business directory, and a plethora of networking opportunities.
“The travel guide is sort of the outside piece to get people in. The business directory shows the retail side (of the county), so combined they show the full inventory of Wyoming County assets.
“We (the chamber) also service our members. First is the members, then the community, then the tourist. But it’s working toward all those things put together.”
Approximately 75,000 travel guides are printed and distributed all over the country, as is 20,000 business directories – and that's the collective advantage, Gardner says. Your reach becomes greater when listed with several other business. You can always add an ad as well. Additionally, Chamber members will typically “rise to the top” in a Google search.
Say you want to move into the county, or merely want to know more about it, the Chamber offers a relocation welcome package. In it is the travel guide and business directory along with information about several businesses and the like throughout the county.
In addition to the welcome package, Chamber & Tourism hosts a job fair and is the primary sponsor for Agripalooza.
“We do a job fair to serve our members first but, it also promotes the opportunity in the county. A job fair exposes the employer with potential workers and a resource for those members to promote the jobs available. If the business needs help with searching for employees, we have the resources to aid in their search.
“We are also an Ag community. Agripalooza not only promotes the agriculture in the county, it also highlights the local businesses surrounding the industry.”
According to Gardner, everything is interconnected. To help businesses become larger fixtures in the community, awareness and attention needs to be on business to keep the buying strong in the county.
“Because we support the businesses, they are more likely to come into the downtown areas which will build a strong commercial sector.
“We spend a lot of time to get people to shop local. People are 63 percent more likely to shop from a chamber member because there is a trust. We survive together, we can't do it alone. We are stronger together.”
In addition to promotions like the Shop Local initiative, the Chamber is also an advocate, speaking with officials and writing letters on the business’s behalf.
But how does a business connect with its community?
“Join the chamber and work with the effort to grow. The overall impact helps overall. You are allowing us to work with you to help the business grow. We are always exploring and looking for ways to promote the businesses. My goal is to serve all the businesses in the county.”
While every chamber has their purpose – Arcade Area, Attica Area, Perry, and Warsaw chambers of commerce – the Chamber & Tourism Department serves the whole county.
“We work with local chambers and would like to work with them more to the extent that we are able to. It's important for them to keep their own identity, but if it's an opportunity countywide we want to work with them. It's a mutual thing. Each has their strong points.”
The department also serves the people by promoting its business members. According to Gardner, there are a lot of moving parts.
“We function at so many points, we have to be broad to be able to grow and develop. It's a type of controlled chaos. You have to be organizationally flexible. We have to be open and broad to do everything we can within the context of what we can.”
And with initiatives such as Shop Local, Wyoming County Approved, and their assistance with Arcade and Warsaw’s Main & More events, Gardner says the department is a perfect combination to promote the county.