Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Ethan Fogg Sees “Potential Unleashed” Under New Ontario County Chamber of Commerce

“LOCATE Finger Lakes is proud to profile Ethan Fogg, one of the region’s key figures in business and tourism promotion. We also thank Ethan for being an active member of the LOCATE Finger Lakes Board of Directors.”
– Mike Nozzolio, Board Chair, LOCATE Finger Lakes

Ethan Fogg

Ethan Fogg, President and CEO of the new Ontario County Chamber of Commerce, felt like he was channeling his father when he announced the rebranding and merging of the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and Victor Chamber of Commerce at a March 3 event that drew 125 guests representing 75 Finger Lakes businesses.

My dad was very excited at my college graduation because he felt he was seeing potential unleashed. That’s exactly how I felt about our rebranding,” says Ethan, who describes himself as a convener and explorer.

Ethan could have gone anywhere to pursue his career, yet he chose to remain here in the Finger Lakes. Unleashing the potential of the Finger Lakes region is part of Ethan’s DNA with current and past involvement in more than 14 organizations who are working to enhance life and economic development in the area. He currently serves on the boards of LOCATE Finger Lakes, Canandaigua Local Development Corporation, Rotary Club of Canandaigua, and chairs the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation.

Ethan believes “by drawing the attention of investors to accessible, affordable and livable areas [such as the Finger Lakes], and offering abundant natural and human resources, they are dispelling the myth that true success can only be had in metropolitan areas.”

As a life-long Finger Lakes resident, and one who is committed to the future of the Finger Lakes, Ethan views economic development organizations in the community, such as Chambers of Commerce and LOCATE Finger Lakes, as the key to nurturing the steady and sustainable growth of the region. “These efforts continue to create jobs, advance our economy and sustain the culture that attracts visitors and investors from around the world,” he added.

LOCATE Finger Lakes was created to be an initiative focused on directing local, national and international business leaders to the Finger Lakes region while also inspiring them to look closely at the region’s potential. LOCATE Finger Lakes’ efforts amplify the Chamber’s efforts to reach a greater audience.

Prior to taking over leadership of the Chamber five years ago, Ethan was Regional Director of Circulation and Marketing for the Community Media Group and worked at Clifton Springs Hospital, overseeing marketing, community relations and fundraising operations. His path through higher education includes degrees in Hotel Management from Paul Smith’s College, Business Administration from Finger Lakes Community College, Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and a Master’s in Public Administration from SUNY Brockport.

Excited about Opportunities

Ethan believes economic development efforts will be amplified under the new Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which is deeply enmeshed in promoting tourism and agriculture in the area and assisting many businesses that are either directly or indirectly involved with those sectors.

We will continue to become more involved in tourism and hospitality. We are really focused on creating an embassy in Ontario County, a place where those who discover us on foot, by phone, or online can feel welcome and well-informed,” he says. “Our efforts will complement and support those businesses and organizations who are making this area a destination choice for visitors.”

One such effort is the chamber’s involvement as a primary partner in the year-round Winter in Canandaigua initiative to convert summer visitors into winter tourists. He is quick to point out that the effort goes far beyond Canandaigua and embraces all the Finger Lakes. The initiative launched with the highly successful Finger Lakes Winter Carnival, which promoted a number of local shopping experiences, restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and cideries as well as numerous other venues.

LOCATE Finger Lakes wrote about the Winter in Canandaigua initiative recently: “Winter in Canandaigua” Launches Initiative to Change Mindset of Summer Tourists

He also sees strong potential for the food, beverage, and agriculture markets in Ontario County. “We will continue to talk about brand elevation and storytelling. We want our businesses to grow their bottom line by helping them package and market their products and services even more successfully.”

The new Ontario County Chamber of Commerce now represents 700 businesses and thousands of their employees, and the number is growing steadily. “We’re meeting quite a lot of new friends who were not affiliated with any chamber before. Since were no longer one-town-centered, businesses in communities without vital business associations finally have a place they can call their own.”

Five Years in the Making

The rebranding of the Canandaigua Chamber into the Ontario Chamber is not a new idea. The organization realized that the old chamber’s name was not reflective of who it was serving and where it was headed. The last major rebranding effort was more than 25 years ago. Because a significant number of its members are outside of Canandaigua, it made sense to adopt a brand that’s more representative of actual operations.

With his extensive experience in marketing and enhancing customer experiences, Ethan has been articulating and refining the Chamber’s brand since he took over leadership in 2017. Rebranding conversations were under way when the Victor Chamber of Commerce approached him about partnering in a more synergistic way. The two chambers have been long-time collaborators but felt they could have more impact on economic development and better serve their members by combining operations.

Ethan immediately saw the potential benefits, not just for members but the region as a whole. “We are undergoing a renaissance here and need to share our successes and empower others to be successful,” he explains.

As he works on broader economic development opportunities, Ethan is laser-focused on making sure the Ontario County Chamber of Commerce is welcoming to all and attentive member and visitor needs. He believes members are already seeing the benefits of expanding their networks and taking part in more programs and benefits, and he references recent, record-breaking attendance to prove it.

Always open to talking with existing and potential members, Ethan and his team have already planned a variety of member events such as mixers, Chamber University classes,video calls to promote involvement, and, of course, The Q. The Ontario County Chamber’s annual celebration brings together professional and community leaders to share successes and discuss the hamber’s vision for the future. Additionally, the chamber website is serving the area with an enhanced community calendar for all of Ontario County.

Maureen Ballatori is a LOCATE Finger Lakes Business Journal contributing writer and a member of the organization’s board of directors. She is the founder and CEO of 29 Design Studio, a creative agency for food, beverage, and agriculture brands. Ballatori also owns Metro Collective which helps Upstate NY shared space operators activate their workspaces.

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