New Chamber president sees upswing for organization

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Brooke Pontillo was elected this morning as the new president of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. She is pictured outside the Chamber office on Main Street in Albion.

ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce has a new president who is committed to helping local businesses become stronger.

Brooke Pontillo, a senior account executive for Toshiba, has been working in the county for 16 years. The Batavia resident has Orleans as her sales territory.

“The people of Orleans County have been so good to me and Toshiba,” she said this morning.

The Chamber has 350 members. It has nearly $27,000 in the bank. Pontillo credited Kathy Blackburn, the Chamber’s executive director, for leading the organization to a stronger financial position.

A growth in members as well as revenue from events is making the Chamber healthier, and putting the group in a position to do more for the community, said Cindy Robinson, the outgoing president. She served in that role for three years.

Last month’s Home and Garden Show, for example, netted $5,579 for the Chamber. The event at the fairgrounds attracted 3,500 to 4,000 people over two days, Blackburn said.

Last year the Chamber debuted a public art project, the Palettes of Orleans. It included 73 paintings by artists that were displayed at businesses. The artwork was auctioned off in October and some of the proceeds are being directed to each of the five school districts in the county for art scholarships. Each district will receive $250.

The program will be capped at 50 paintings, and this year they will be on 11-by-14-inch canvasses. Artists have a July 1 deadline to complete the paintings.

The Chamber today also elected Mark Merithew of Apple Blossom Florist in Medina as vice president. Brett Hill of Albone & Hill Plumbing and Joseph Organiściak of Sandbox Union were elected as new members of the board.

“We had another year of growth with new events, new members and new board members,” Robinson said during the annual meeting. “The board is moving in the right direction.”