A nonprofit organization adds value to a community in a way that cannot be measured by cash flow.
Jamestown has a core group of attracting agents, which are also nonprofit organizations. These groups rely on grants, donations and other forms of public support in order to remain open. Often, they end their year with a deficit.
However, the value these attractors add to the area comes in the form of education. They also promote tourism into the area, which, in turn, brings people into other area businesses.
Jamestown Savings Bank Arena
Operated by the Jamestown Center City Development Corp.
"It does benefit Jamestown for different organizations and agencies - the so-called attractors - to be here. We bring in tourists, and therefore bring in monies for restaurants and hotels and any other services," said Debra Pacos, development coordinator for the Robert H. Jackson Center.
Many of the area's attractors offer an educational value. The Robert H. Jackson Center, Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the Fenton Historical Society each work closely with local schools in order to provide programming aimed at children.
"We try as much as possible within the confines of the school system to have our regional school districts come and see (exhibits)," said Dr. Anton Leenders, president and CEO of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.
Just last year, the Robert H. Jackson Center began an educational initiative, which works with and awards teachers. Additionally, Pacos said the center often offers free programming. It offers a young readers program where students are able to meet an author.
The Fenton Historical Society also works closely with area schools, in order to educate children about the history of Jamestown. The Fenton offers programming to children and the community, such as its holiday exhibit, monthly talks, school visits and cemetery walks.
"We make an indelible mark on (kids) and they get local history, then," said Joni Blackman, executive director of the Fenton Historical Society.
The Fenton is the only institution in the city that saves local history, according to Blackman. She said it is the Fenton's job to collect all of the information that no one else thinks to collect, and then make sense of it all.
"We're the ones they call in 50 years. If we don't save (history), number one, we don't have it to tell them about. It's gone. It disappears every day if we don't get the information. Second of all, if you don't support the historical organizations, there's no one to call in 50 years."
Both the Fenton Historical Society and the Robert H. Jackson Center are considered by the state to be educational institutions. Each year, they must prove through an audit that they are doing their job to educate people.
"Nonprofits in general have two bottom lines," Blackman said. "They have the dollar bottom line and they have their mission. Ourselves and the Jackson Center are both incorporated in New York state under the board of education. We are education institutions. Our number one job is to prove we are educating people."
Each of the city's attractors find themselves faced with visitors every day. However, there are times when tourism explodes to almost more than a building is able to handle.
"Some days, we just can't handle all the people that come in for tours," Pacos said. "We really do attract a lot. And, that's the fun part of being here, showing people. They're always very surprised at what we have here. The building doesn't look as big as what you're imagining it is from the outside. But, they come in and they are in awe of everything that we do here."
The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Leenders said, attracts people to the area with its birding festivals and the new exhibits that are being brought in.
"There's more art in this building right now than there ever has been in the history of RTPI. One of these exhibits came right from New York, and now they're here," Leenders said. "It's a great destination for anybody, local and from abroad. People come here, because they are aware of the existence of the institute here."
Up to 70 percent of the traffic that the Fenton Museum gets each year is from people who do not live in Jamestown, according to Blackman.
"The majority of our visitors are from out-of-town. But, when we have free days, we can have 500 people through here, all locals," Blackman said.
The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy also provides a large draw. Each year, it puts on its annual Lucy Fest, which draws visitors from outside the area. According to Journey Gunderson, executive director for the Lucy-Desi Center, the event brings in 20,000 visitors a year, less than 5 percent of which are from Chautauqua County.
"There's really no disputing that with this Lucy-Desi Center here in Jamestown, it is literally a vehicle to bring money from outside of the area in, and it is doing so," Gunderson said. "When you see buses full of people from states very far from here, coming to Jamestown, that's a huge benefit to Jamestown. Not only do they stay in the hotels, but they eat at the restaurants and they shop here locally."
MORE THAN EVENTS
Another nonprofit in Jamestown with a big draw is the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation. According to Lee Harkness, executive director, there is more to the DJDC than just event planning.
"Our job is to get people into downtown Jamestown, have people come to Jamestown and have them feel comfortable here, like it here, and want to be here," Harkness said.
Drawing people to events, according to Harkness, help with residency in Jamestown. Additionally, it helps with business development, recruiting workers and professionals.
"If they feel comfortable here and like it here, then they are going to want to be here," Harkness said.
The DJDC is also responsible for business recruitment and retaining businesses. They help business owners start up and can point them in the right direction as they are developing. The DJDC additionally helps with marketing in Jamestown.
"We do marketing a number of different ways," Harkness said. "We market Jamestown as a whole, we market Jamestown to get businesses here and manufacturing here. We market Jamestown for getting people, employees, professional people here. We market Jamestown through events. It's not just one little thing."