Chamber's Lunch and Learn gets grant from State Farm

by Claudia Loucks correspondent
Bethany Winkleman, president of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Winkleman’s State Farm Agency in Geneseo; and Zack Sullivan, executive director of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce, show a mock check in the amount of $5,000 which is the amount of the grant the Geneseo Chamber recently received to support its Lunch and Learn Program.

Bethany Winkleman reaches beyond her own business in doing something good for others which is the motto she lives and works by in Geneseo.

Winkleman, owner of Winkleman’s State Farm Agency in downtown Geneseo, is president of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and was instrumental in obtaining a State Farm Grant in the amount of $5,000 in support of the Chamber’s Lunch and Learn Program.

The Geneseo Chamber will once again host virtual Lunch and Learn events at noon via Zoom on the last Wednesday of each month, beginning this month (Feb. 24) and continuing through May.

Zack Sullivan, executive director of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Geneseo Chamber regularly hosts professional development workshops on topics of interest to businesses, including human resources and local emergency response.”

He explained the Chamber’s Lunch and Learn program “is an effort born as a result of the pandemic during the initial shakedown in 2020, and said, “With Zoom playing a more prominent role in how we have connected over the past year, virtual Lunch and Learn webinars are a way to keep businesses connected with each other. Chamber members are able to network and, in some cases, develop mutually beneficial professional connections with each other.”

In response to the Geneseo Chamber receiving the grant, Dave Oloffson, Corporate Responsibility Analyst with State Farm, said, “The Chamber’s Lunch and Learn program is a great fit with State Farm’s Community Development focus. We have a commitment to support small business and development, entrepreneurship and the training of critical job skills.”

“Now more than ever it is crucial to do what we can to support local business and their employees in how they respond to the events of the past 11 months,” Oloffson said.

He explained that another part of State Farm’s philanthropic philosophy “is to support our local State Farm agents and their engagement in their communities. We’d like to congratulate Bethany Winkleman on being selected President of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce and know she will do a great job in leading that organization.”

In addition to the Lunch and Learn events, Sullivan said the Geneseo Chamber also hosts its annual Fall Breakfast in late October, and added, “During the Fall Breakfast, Chamber members are invited to enjoy a hearty breakfast and a presentation by the Geneseo Chamber, featuring a keynote speaker.”

“The Fall Breakfast is popular with our membership and the grant from State Farm helps keep the cost to attend affordable for those who attend,” Sullivan said. “Even if we have to limit attendance, we hope to get back to hosting the Fall Breakfast in person once again.”

The presentations will be shared virtually with Chamber member businesses as well, he said.