COLONIE The Colonie Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday, Dec. 3 that Jessica Schul, a branch manager at Hudson River Community Credit Union, has agreed to serve as Chair of the 2016 Chamber Board of Directors as it heads into its 31st year.
“We’ve just celebrated our 30th as the Chamber of Commerce,” said Chamber President, Tom Nolte. It was only ten years ago, he noted, that the then-Board of Directors changed its name from Latham Area Chamber of Commerce to Colonie Chamber of Commerce-a change that was meant to reflect the “mission and scope” of the organization that now boasts a membership of more than 550 businesses from all areas of Colonie and around the Capital District.
The mission of the Chamber is to support local businesses by connecting them with resources, fostering cooperative relationships, providing educational resources and promoting their products and/or services. Nolte said that they offer “a buffet” of tailored services to local businesses: health insurance; services such as payroll management, high-speed internet or credit card processing; networking opportunities; member-to-member discounts; educational seminars; and affordable advertising opportunities, among other things.
“A large majority of our members fall within our smallest employee category, which is one to 11 employees,” he said. “So our core member is that small, sole-proprietor business-I would say about 65 percent. That small businessperson is wearing every hat under the sun: Today they’re doing their marketing, tomorrow they’re doing their accounting, they next day they’re dealing with legal stuff. What we really believe in is that those are the businesses that want to come in and sit down with a real human being and talk about what plans are available, what the rates are and what individual needs they might have. The personal experiences like that are important for our members.”
“We were very fortunate that the top two names on our list accepted,” said Nolte of two new additions to the board who will begin serving three-year terms on Jan.1 when they replace outgoing members Jason Lecuyer and C.G. Frink, both of whom have served as Chair. Replacements are chosen by a nominating committee, according to Nolte, usually for active service within the Chamber as well as specific skill sets that they bring to the table. The committee narrows down the field, ranks candidates and then begins at the top of that list and works their way down until all seats have been filled by willing members.
“When we’re fully staffed, we only have three employees here,” said Nolte. “So we rely very heavily on the time and talent of our volunteers, whether they’re on the Board of Directors or on our various committees.” The board, he said, is instrumental in setting policy for the Chamber and oversees him in his role as president. They work on the annual budget, convene ad-hoc committees, write by-laws and do any hiring. “Any of the financial matters really need to go through the board,” said Nolte.
The new Chair, Schul, has previously served on both the Board and the Executive Committee, most recently as Chair-Elect. Serving with her on the board’s Executive Committee will be Jennifer Page (Account Manager at HANYS Benefit Services) and Paul Franklin (CFO at Nathan H. Kelman, Inc.) returning to their seats as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Returning board member Todd Reichelt, (General Manager at Albany Marriott Hotel) will be moving into the Chair-Elect’s seat and one of the newcomers, Shane Rauh (Business Banking Officer at SEFCU), will serve as the Executive Committee’s At-Large member.
Rauh and the other new members Rich Rosetti (President of Rosetti Development Companies), will be joining existing board members: Carm Basile (President, CDTA); Jonathan Buhner (Superintendent, South Colonie Schools); D. Joseph Corr (Superintendent, North Colonie Schools); David Cesari (President, Morgan Linen Services); Joe LaCivita (Director of Planning and Economic Development, Town of Colonie); Dawn McCurdy (Owner, McCurdy Real Estate Group); John Prividera (VP & Retail Market Manager, NBT Bank); Connie Stankivicz (General Manager, Colonie Center); and Fred Stemp (President, Anchor Agency).
Nolte said those selected to the board know what the value of their Chamber membership is.” He likes to compare membership in the Chamber of Commerce to having a gym membership. “You really get out of it what you put in,” he said. “And they put that work in.”