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Chamber decides to go without an office

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Samantha Roskowski, executive director for the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, is pictured inside the Chamber office at 102 North Main St., Suite 1. Today was the last day the office will be open full-time. It will be open 9 to 11 on weekday mornings until closing March 31.

ALBION – The organization that promotes businesses and events in Orleans County will do so without an office. The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is closing its office on Main Street in Albion.

Today was the last full-time day for the office. It will be open 9 to 11 on weekday mornings until closing on March 31.

The Chamber will maintain an on-line presence, and its director and volunteer board members will continue to work hard promoting businesses in the county, said Samantha Roskowski, the executive director.

She will work remotely, either from home or at other locations in the county. She is the Chamber’s lone employee. Not being committed to office hours at a building will allow her to be out more in the community, working with businesses.

She said few people stopped by the Chamber office anyway. The office is next to Five Star Bank at 102 North Main St. The Chamber has many brochures spread out on tables, highlighting museums, attractions and events in Orleans County.

But Roskowski said only 30 to 40 people a year would come into the office looking for information. She instead wants to build a more robust on-line presence for the Chamber, with an easy-to-navigate directory of members in the county.

“We’re trying to adapt and stay relevant,” Roskowski said this afternoon. “We’re trying to provide the best service for our members.”

The Chamber will save on rent by going without an office. She said other Chambers have made the same decision to function without an office and redirect energy into the on-line presence and other services for members and the community.

The Chamber had considered a shared office with the County Tourism Department, but county officials opted instead to have Tourism in the Orleans County Administration Building on Route 31, the building that includes the DMV and Department of Social Services.

Roskowski said the Chamber may revisit an office again someday. If it goes that route she would prefer to share space with another organization.

The Chamber will work to clear out its materials and files by March 31, the end of its lease with Five Star. The Chamber also is planning one of its biggest events, the Home and Garden Show on April 16-17.

Roskowski said the community can expect the Chamber to be active and visible in the community, even without an office.

“We’ll be just as available as before,” she said today from the office. “I just won’t be here physically.”

For more on the Chamber, click here.