CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The Saratoga County Chamber has opened an office in town to better serve its growing membership in the southern part of the county.
President Todd Shimkus confirmed recent media reports of the local office late last week. Shimkus said his organization’s Twin Bridges Council, a group of member businesses located in Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Mechanicville, Waterford, and Malta, have been recommending that there be a formal presence in that part of the county for quite some time.
“We’ve hired a staff person who will be dedicated to that office and that area,” Shimkus said. “I think it’s the close proximity and the presence in the community that they were after. If something arises where we can be helpful we will already be there. That kind of relationship building and that kind of response is something we can’t do from Saratoga Springs.”
Shimkus said the businesses and nonprofits in that part of the county that belong to the Saratoga County Chamber have expressed an interest in having more events in their area as well as having the organization be a better promoter of southern Saratoga County tourism.
“It’s easier for us to do that with dedicated staff and office space in those communities,” he said.
For those who are not tuned to the business world, the Saratoga County Chamber (formerly the Saratoga Springs Chamber of Commerce) has its main office in Saratoga Springs. It is not to be confused with the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County (aka the Chamber) which was formed more than half a century ago in the Town of Halfmoon and has been headquartered for many years in Clifton Park.
Businesses, as well as nonprofits, can belong to any number of Chamber of Commerce organizations and many in this area belong to both Chambers.
In mid-July, Chamber Vice President Liz Roggenbuck left the Chamber after working there for nearly two decades. She was recently hired by Shimkus and will head up the Clifton Park office on a full-time basis.
“Her hiring gave us an opportunity to put somebody in that office who has been committed to that community for the last 20 years, knows how to run a Chamber, knows what the members down there want,” Shimkus said. “Her job is going to be to deliver that.”
Once the office opens, Roggenbuck will receive help, at least initially, from Saratoga County Chamber Vice President Denise Romeo, another former member of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber staff. Both women live in Clifton Park.
As for the immediate future, Shimkus said he expects there will be more networking events and more educational events on a variety of topics for small business owners, people in sales and across all industries including nonprofits. He is also supportive of Roggenbuck’s desire to continue initiatives she began at her former position.
“Liz has done an extraordinary job of creating and building a Women in Business program for the southern Chamber,” he said. “We’ll learn from her experience. We don’t have a women’s program so she’ll put one together for us. She’s also been actively involved in forming business to school partnerships. She’s very interested in continuing that work and so are we.”
Shimkus noted that the 2020 chairman of the Saratoga County Chamber board will be Kevin Hedley, owner of Hedley and Company CPA on Route 9 in Halfmoon, and in 2022 the board leadership will go to Tara Pleat of Wilcenski and Pleat, a legal firm in Clifton Park.
“The chairman decides our advocacy efforts and two out of the next three will be from Clifton Park and Halfmoon so our commitment to southern Saratoga County is obvious both in terms of who’s in those leadership positions as well as our new staff and the new office,” Shimkus said. “This is a well-organized strategic decision on our part to make sure that Saratoga County as a whole gets the best chamber they’ve ever had.”
The move to open a local office comes as the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County is in talks with the Capital Region Chamber about an affiliation. Pete Bardunias is the President and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.
“Our Chamber board has looked at the position we are in here, the way southern Saratoga County connects to the rest of the region and we feel that there’s a lot to be gained by creating an even stronger bond,” he said. “There’s a different dynamic in this part of the county than you would see closer to Saratoga Springs. We feel it makes sense to connect with the region [via the Capital Region Chamber] and see what we can do to help our business community grow.”
Bardunias said benefits from aligning with the Regional Chamber would include the availability of micro-loans, its work for entrepreneurs, and its Women’s Business Group.
“I hope the Clifton Park and Halfmoon area benefits from the new arrangement with the Chambers,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re here to serve the needs of the business community, and community is a very important part of what I do for a living and for my vocation. I moved my family here to be part of this community and that’s not going to change.”