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Chautauqua County Chamber Of Commerce News

June 1, 2008
Times Observer
Westfield-Barcelona Info Booth Ready For Visitors

Thanks to the efforts of a group of dedicated volunteers, the Westfield-Barcelona ‘‘Info — With a Smile’’î Tourist Information Booth, located near the Daniel Reed Pier in Westfield on Lake Erie, is ready for the 2008 summer season.

Volunteers from the Westfield & Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Town of Westfield, and dedicated community members gathered on a Saturday morning in May to wipe down the cobwebs, sweep the floors and fill the brochure racks with information on all there is to see and do in Westfield and Chautauqua County.

The ‘‘Info — With a Smile’’ Tourist Information Booth was established in 1994 with the goal of putting Westfield on the map as a positive-thinking, forward-looking place to live and visit.

‘‘The idea of the booth was sparked by a few individuals and fueled by a relatively small number of folks who, getting wind of the project, were eager to get involved. They all desire to help Westfield be a place to which visitors will want to return because of the friendliness and helpfulness of its people and because of the interesting fun things to do here,’’ explained booth volunteer Fran Anderson.

‘‘Info — With a Smileî’’ offers visitors much more than visitor information. The attractive little ‘‘rest area’’ is a comfortable space that invites visitors to stay and relax before continuing on to their final destination. Comfortable chairs on the deck invite visitors to sit and enjoy the beautiful view of Barcelona Harbor and Lake Erie. The yard is kept mowed and picnic tables are available for enjoying lunch.

Area businesses, especially motels, bed and breakfasts, camping grounds, restaurants, antiques and specialty shops are encouraged and invited to display their brochures advertising their services in the booth.

For more information, contact the Westfield & Barcelona Chamber of Commerce at 326-4000.

Extension Of Sole Proprietor Insurance Differential Sought

The Business Council of New York State has issued a memo in support of a bill — S.7550 (Seward) / A.10656 (Morelle) — which extends the maximum premium rate differential established for group coverage for individual proprietors who purchase group health insurance through associations, such as the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce.

The Business Council, the Chautauqua County Chamber and chambers across New York state support the bill, which extends the rate differential until 2011. This provision was supported in 2006 and a similar provision 2001 and 2002, when a rate differential of was first enacted.

In 2001, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Alliance of New York state, The Business Council and other chambers of commerce aggressively supported legislation that allowed sole proprietors (or groups of one) to obtain insurance coverage through associations. The law had previously limited access to small businesses having between two and 50 employees.

The solution devised was to allow for individual proprietors to enroll in an association plan through a chamber of commerce but at a differential rate. This current bill extends the differential until 2011.

Associations, including the several hundred chambers of commerce across New York state, are often the only resource for sole proprietors to access affordable health insurance coverage. As the cost of health care coverage in general has increased dramatically over the past ten years, fewer options are available to sole proprietors. Chambers of commerce provide a vital service to their members — and to the greater public policy goal of ensuring that health insurance coverage is made available in an accessible, affordable means, to small businesses and sole proprietors.

The numbers being served are not insignificant, and reflect the changing nature of our state’s economy. For example, 637 businesses are enrolled in the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce insurance program, 20% of which are sole proprietors.

In other areas of the state, 41 percent of the Greece Chamber of Commerce’s members are sole proprietors, more than half of whom access health coverage through the chamber. The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce currently administers 296 sole proprietor health insurance accounts; the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce administers approximately 450 accounts, and the Long Island Association administers nearly 2,000 accounts.

Article Photos

A group of dedicated volunteers gathered at the Westfield-Barcelona Tourism Information Booth in May to get the booth ready for the 2008 summer visitor season. Pictured left to right, front and back are: Kelly Mathews, Fran Anderson, James O’Brien (The Folio Company), Martha Bills (Town of Westfield Supervisor), Bill Stratton, Lois Perritt, Kate Issler (Town of Westfield), Blair Koss (iKoss Consulting), Sam Arcadipaine (Arcadipaine and Associates), and Darlene Breads (Double DAB Riding Stable).



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