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Late Capital Region Chamber Of Commerce President Chuck Steiner Mourned

WAMC Composite Photo by Dave Lucas

The area is mourning Capital Region Chamber of Commerce President, Chuck Steiner.

Steiner became president of the Capital Region Chamber when the Schenectady and Albany-Colonie chambers merged in 2015. He died Tuesday morning at age 66. He had been on medical leave from the chamber since February after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob  disease, a fatal brain disorder that affects one in a million people.

Chamber CEO Mark Eagan recalls Steiner began work at the Schenectady Chamber in January 2002.   "He came to Schenectady at a time when the community was probably at one of its all-time lows. He was someone who I think who was able to have people look at the community with a new set of eyes. And not just look at the challenges the community had, but, how do we build spirit and how can we build opportunity? So much of what's happened, specifically in downtown Schenectady and its re-birth, but also projects throughout the county of Schenectady, Chuck's fingerprints are on a lot of it. But Chuck's style was often behind the scenes. Chuck knew how to work well with people. He was sometimes a broker behind the scenes to make things happen, and his personality was he never sought the limelight."

New York State Senator Jim Tedisco says with Steiner’s death, Schenectady and the entire Capital Region lost a true champion for small businesses and jobs.   "Chuck was a very strong advocate for promoting and growing the small businesses and creating most of the jobs in our economy. He loved our community and he always made ribbon cuttings for small businesses fun and exciting. My deepest condolences go out to his family, the staff at the Capital Region Chamber, and to the many friends he had made here in the Capital Region. He left a great legacy and will long be missed."

Congressman Paul Tonko remembers Steiner’s special talent for unlocking the American dream.  "His tireless work helped create countless jobs and local opportunity for many. On more than one occasion, he helped me set up small business visits and often joined us as we met with local owners and other business leaders. He was quick with a smile and was never happier than when he was talking about his family, especially his grandchildren.

Chuck indeed is renowned for his civic leadership. Together with his wonderful wife Marcy, he worked tirelessly to move our community forward and build it as a stronger place. Their work together strengthened the fabric of our greater Capital Region. I want to offer Marcy and their entire family my deepest condolences. My staff and I have truly loved working with Chuck and will miss him tremendously. He certainly leaves us with a spirit of hope.”

Prior to his arrival in the Capital Region, Steiner served for 16 years as president and CEO of the Niagara Falls chamber. Eagan says those who knew him during his time in Schenectady found Steiner friendly, energetic and above all kind to others.  "I think his passion was how could he help build better communities. Right from when he first arrived, he sought to build bridges with neighboring counties, neighboring organizations, and that overture led to the Schenectady Chamber and the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber to do a lot of shared initiatives over the years, which led to two years ago, those chambers founding a new umbrella organization called the Capital Region Chamber. I'm convinced that organization wouldn't have happened without Chuck."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.