Chamber of Commerce names new executive director

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is promoting Samantha Roskowski, left, from administrative assistant to executive director. She is pictured with Kathy Blackburn, the executive director the past three years. Blackburn will stay on with the Chamber as director of special projects, managing grants for the organization.

GAINES – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce will have a new executive director on Feb. 1. Samantha Roskowski has already proven to be dedicated to the organization with an attention to detail and commitment to many programs, said the outgoing executive director, Kathy Blackburn.

Roskowski has been working as administrative assistant for the Chamber the past 2 ½ years. She has stepped up in many roles for the organization as its lone full-time employee.

“She has taken on one job after another,” Blackburn said after today’s Legislative Luncheon at Tillman’s Village Inn. Roskowski was the main organizer of the event, coordinating with elected officials, including staff for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Blackburn was praised for leading the Chamber the past three years. It was supposed to be an interim assignment for about 6 months but Blackburn stayed, helping the Chamber administer a facade grant program for houses and businesses in Medina.

She will stay on as special projects director, managing that $100,000 grant program this year as well as a $335,000 NY Main Street grant awarded to downtown Medina for renovation of mixed-use buildings.

“The Chamber is a lot healthier now than when she came on as executive director,” Cindy Robinson, former board president, said about Blackburn.

The Chamber has about 200 members, and Roskowski said she wants to grow the membership to 250 to 300 members.

More members would give the Chamber more clout and resources to promote local businesses, and organize seminars and other special events on their behalf, Roskowski said.

Blackburn said the Chamber could also be stronger if the county government provided some funding and if it allowed the tourism department to work out of the Chamber.

“We would like to have tourism out of our office,” Blackburn. “We could work in conjunction. We are one of the few Chambers without government backing or tourism promotion.”

The Chamber’s next big event is the Home and Garden Show on April 16-17.

For more on the Chamber, click here.