CHQ Plus supports small businesses, offers training | News, Sports, Jobs

From left, Andrea Shierling, Manager, CHQ Plus; Randall Daversa, Member of Jamestown City Council; Terri Johnson, Director, Employment and Community Services, Resource Center; Lisa Underwood, Clerk; Denise Jones, CEO, Resource Center; Greg Edwards, CEO, Gebbie Foundation; and County Executive PJ Wendel.submitted photos

Several officials attended a ribbon-cutting event for a new downtown business.

CHQ Plus is a community collaboration event to showcase local artisans by selling their products in downtown Jamestown. The new company is located at 221 Cherry Street.

Terri Johnson, Director of Employment and Community Services at The Resource Center, said CHQ Plus aims to “double.” First, Johnson said CHQ Plus will provide a space that small businesses can use to sell their products without renting out an entire store or hiring staff.

“This could be an opportunity for small businesses to test new products or test products in retail stores that they may only sell online,” she says.

Additionally, Johnson believes the storefront will provide artisans and small businesses throughout the county with access to a larger customer base.

The second goal of CHQ Plus is to create a business that can be used as a training program for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“This allows us to teach people transferable employable skills that they can use in employment settings,” Johnson said. “Our aim is to train people with disabilities and then get them a job in the community where they can use the skills they’ve learned.”

Eventually, CHQ Plus also plans to highlight products made by people with disabilities.

The idea for CHQ Plus arose out of a grant opportunity with the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, Johnson said.Chamber of Commerce grants to consider “feasibility” Or could be used to showcase the storefronts of local small businesses.

The Chamber of Commerce coordinates operations with the Resource Center due to the Resource Center’s history of successfully operating business in the region.

Once the resource center developed a business plan and initial project budget, Johnson said the two organizations began processing additional grant requests to help get the business off the ground.

Along with the Resource Center, the Chamber of Commerce created an advisory board for CHQ Plus and recruited local suppliers.

Johnson said the Gebbie Foundation also played a vital role in the creation of CHQ Plus.

“The Gebbie Foundation has been an amazing partner at every stage of this project, helping us along the way,” she says. “They’ve been a huge advocate and really love the connection to our mission at the resource center.”

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation provided financial support for some of the renovations needed for the Wellman Building, while the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation helped pay for some of CHQ Plus’ start-up costs.

“Without these local partners, this vision would never have become a reality,” Johnson said. “We are so grateful that they all believed in this project and worked together to make it a reality.”

If CHQ Plus opens, local residents will have the opportunity to support multiple vendors by shopping at one location. Currently, the storefront offers products from 21 local suppliers. Each of the suppliers was either from Chautauqua County or nearby, Johnson said.

Of the 21 vendors, four were relevant to the Resource Center’s mission as disabled-owned or -operated businesses. Johnson explained that people who shop at CHQ plus not only support local businesses, but people with disabilities as well.

“Many people with disabilities do not have access to employment, and we want to ensure they have the skills they need to succeed by creating a ready workforce for other businesses,” she says.

People can expect vibrancy, vibrancy and diversity when they visit CHQ Plus, Johnson said. The space in the Wellman Building has been refurbished to accommodate a wide range of products from different suppliers, creating a positive shopping experience for visitors.

“Trainees will learn how to greet customers and are excited to welcome the community to CHQ Plus,” Johnson said. “They’ll be learning a lot of different skills throughout the store.”

Johnson said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Neighboring businesses have been supportive of CHQ Plus’ mission, reminding Johnson of the strong desire of the downtown community to work together for the success of the downtown area. In addition, Johnson said local residents were excited about the store’s variety of products and the quality interactions with employees.

Following Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, CHQ Plus hopes to expand and add more suppliers in the coming months. Johnson said the company hopes to offer local CHQ Plus baskets in 2023 that can be shipped to people outside the Jamestown area to share Jamestown produce with a wider audience.

Regardless of future expansion plans, Johnson emphasized the importance of CHQ Plus remaining committed to its dual mission.

“We hope to support and strengthen small businesses while remaining focused on our resource center’s mission of supporting people with disabilities to achieve maximum independence and contribute to their communities,” she says.

Those interested in becoming a CHQ Plus provider are encouraged to visit the online application at

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