"I was privileged to serve as President of the Chamber for two years, director for upwards of twenty years, President and other offices of five Olean Development Corporations, and as a director for a number of years, all during the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s," recalls Arthur E. Hornburg, who served as President in 1964-65. "I learned that the most important facet of development is ‘attitude.’ The people making decisions are human beings. If you are sincere in your willingness to learn the problems of the prospect and help solve them, it goes a long way.
"The top Agway official told me that out of thirty communities they looked at, we were the only one where the City and the Chamber seemed to have the same agenda."
Other past Chamber leaders shared reflections from their time in office and, despite the focus on economics, marketing and development, their memories nearly all revolve around relationships and people.
During his tenure, and despite many successes, Daniel Harris indicated that the most memorable part of his five years as executive director was "working collaboratively with a great many talented and dedicated people."
Former board member and President John Stevens said, "I really enjoyed working with the dedicated people I had the pleasure of serving with on the Chamber board, in particular, Jim Kelly, Nancy Walsh, Pat Carroll, Mike Kasperski, Carol O’Connell, Art Titus, and many more. It was a lot of fun working with Mark Hendrix and others on the membership committee as we significantly increased businesses and organizational membership."
Few memories, however, could hope to be as remarkable as those of Jonathan Bates
, who served the Chamber between 1962-78. Among his recollections were "spending an hour alone with Nelson Rockefeller during the
Attica riots, and discovering Senator Bobby Kennedy sitting at my desk."
But obviously, development is the name of the game.
Mr. Stevens said that one of the biggest challenges - and subsequent successes - of his tenure was the Allegheny River Valley Trail. He lauded the efforts of Joe Higgins and local industry and organizations to make the recreation trail a reality.
David Koebelin, who served in many capacities, and Louis Proto, President in 1991, were pleased to see the Chamber move from the second floor of the Bank of New York building to the more visible storefront location.
BB "Clink" Vorhees
, President in 1971-72, was instrumental in getting the Felmont industry to come to
Olean and in working with the Annual Chamber Clambake.
, Chief Operating Officer 1993-2001, remembers many successes during his tenure: Consolidation of the Chamber, EDZ and OBIA; Chamber Accreditation; Creation of Community Foundation; and Downtown Plan - permanent JCC downtown campus. However, it was
City , Towns and County working together- that he believed was the great accomplishment. It could and did happen!
Presidents Dick Hellmer
, President in 1983-84 and Nancy Walsh
, President in 1992 - who were the first married couple to serve on the board - recalled the Home Show, reinstated in the 1980s, the Good
News Program to share good things happening in town, and the policies, internal structures, and long-range planning that the Chamber implemented.
Mr. Hornburg called the loss of Daystrom Furniture to
Virginia a huge challenge. After negotiating with a number of prospects that were interested in the vacant and inexpensive Daystrom Plant, a deal was struck with a
Pennsylvania company to come in; but the deal soured when company employees thought the area would not meet their housing needs.
"That’s when we concluded industrial development includes a lot more than getting the decision makers to say ‘yes,’" Mr. Hornburg said. "We negotiated with four other prospects before we elicited interest from our own Hysol to take over the Daystrom plant. . . . We learned that your best prospects may be right here at home!"
Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce • 716-372-4433 • firstname.lastname@example.org