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Past career prepares new Chamber president

Tom Turnbull is no stranger to Batavia, its Chamber of Commerce, or the business community. He is a lifelong resident of the city; he’s been active in the Chamber for many years and was the publisher of the Daily News for the past 11 years. He is a familiar face and a respected leader.

The skills and experience Turnbull brings from his career at the The Daily News, journalism, business, marketing, public relations and community involvement, align well with his new position as the president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

“From my time as an advertising representative and also as publisher, I am used to working with area businesses on marketing and promoting their businesses. A lot of what we do here at the Chamber is just an extension of promoting and marketing area businesses and Genesee County as a whole,” Turnbull said.

The son of a local business owner, Turnbull, 60, holds a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and an MBA from the State University at Buffalo. Following the retirement of former Chamber president Lynn Freeman, Turnbull took over the job in October. He’s settling into his new role and is enthusiastic about his new career.

Turnbull jokingly says that his biggest challenge so far has been trying to figure out predecessor Lynn Freeman’s filing system.

“Seriously though, the biggest challenge has been getting my arms around all of the different aspects that the Chamber is involved in,” Turnbull said. “I have been amazed at the breadth and scope of our Chamber’s activities. From tourism to insurance to small business consulting and loans to public policy advocacy to regional collaborations to networking… it just goes on and on. Our Chamber is a very dynamic organization and I’m still learning about all that we do here.”

After 38 years at The Daily News, where he worked his way up from an advertising representative to the publisher, Turnbull was used to knowing his field inside and out. There weren’t many situations that he hadn’t run into in the newspaper business. As the new kid on the block at the Chamber, he’s getting used to not having all the answers and he’s embracing the challenge of researching the ins and outs of his new profession.

“It is different but that’s also part of what makes this switch to the Chamber so exciting. I’m learning something new every day and enjoying every minute of it,” Turnbull said. “Our chamber is one of the best run in the state and that was one of the things that excited me about taking this position. Lynn and the staff have done a great job. The way I look at it is I’m just going to take the baton and keep on running.”

Being born and raised in Genesee County and having lived here his whole life, Turnbull values and believes in the Chamber’s mission of creating an environment for business success that will enhance the quality of life for all the citizens of Genesee County.

“I love this county and I believe that this position will allow me to give back to the area which has been so good to me and my family.”

The Chamber has around 600 members and plays an important role in supporting the business community because a strong business community ensures a better quality of life for everyone.

The Chamber's function includes training for businesses, representing business to elected leaders and providing networking opportunities for business owners and employees. The Chamber helps businesses connect to the community and grow.

For 2014, the Chamber is sponsoring the return of the Home Show, which will take place March 28, 29 and 30 at the Ice Arena. Planned events are the awards dinner Feb. 22 at the Clarion, Celebrate Agriculture dinner March 22, golf tournament Aug. 6, and the Decision Makers Agricultural Forum in September.

Currently being discussed by the Town of Batavia, is the possibility of a new Welcome Center to be built on Veterans Memorial Drive and Park Road. The Welcome Center would house the offices for the Chamber, which serves as Genesee County’s tourism agency.

Turnbull has been married to his wife, Michelle, for 20 years and they have a 14-year-old son, JT.

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