By Michael T. Baldwin
Some sweeping changes appear for the future of the Greater Allegany County Chamber (GACOC) of Commerce in Belmont. Newly elected legislator and Chamber Executive Director Gretchen Hanchett has resigned to begin her new career as a District 2 legislator. She will be replaced by interim director Steve Havey, effective December 1st.
Allegany County has taken the I Love NY tourism funding and reallocated it to the county-run tourism department. Havey said that whittled about 60% of the revenue from the chamber. The Chamber’s mission, if it can raise enough money, will focus exclusively on member businesses, of which there are about 170.
The GACCOC is in its ninth year of operation and operates from the Crossroads Center in Belmont. As of today, the 2022 county budget shows no funding for the chamber operation. The Chamber, Tourism and planning offices continue to operate from the Crossroad Center. Havey said “my job, for the next 90 days probably, is to re-do the focus of the chamber”
Previously, the office focused on tourism…now it is 100% on member businesses. Havey said the future is “a little tough” and “we are scrambling to make sure the chamber remains viable.” He said the new focus is only promoting money-making events.
While Havey would not confirm nor deny, sources close to the situation did not believe the chamber could survive another 90 days. In October, Havey said they were given 45 days to right the ship, ending on December 1st. He added, because it was just 45 days, it was detrimental to both entities. Havey said they may seek an extension in order for the agencies to work things out.