Chamber holds annual luncheon


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce held its annual luncheon on Thursday to acknowledge its newcomers, loyal supporters and highlights from the year.

Board electives, local sponsoring businesses, and important community members were gathered at the Mahan Building in Washington Court House by Chamber President Kristy Bowers, who introduced herself and the attendees.

Before the luncheon began, attendees stood for the pledge of allegiance, which was led by Jared Clark, followed by a word of prayer led by Pastor Jay Lucas.

The luncheon meal was catered by The Rusty Keg Tavern.

As the meeting began, Bowers announced the table sponsors, who according to Bowers, came “early in the morning to decorate and prepare tables.” The sponsors included; Court House Manor, St. Catherine’s Manor, Washington Court House City Schools, Southern State Community College, ERA Martin & Assoc., WCHO Radio and Atomic Credit Union.

Bowers also announced the Chamber’s platinum investors, which include Adena Fayette Medical Center, City of Washington Court House, Fifth Third Bank, First State Bank, Hills Pet Nutrition, Merchants National Bank, Parrett Insurance Agency Inc., Valero Renewable Fuels of Bloomingburg and YUSA Corporation.

This year’s gold investors are Walmart Distribution Center and Willis-Clark Agency.

The silver investors include Adobe Express, Atomic Credit Union, Boxed Fitness, Coldwell Banker Heritage, Court House Manor, Destination Outlets, DIS-TRAN Steel Grotsky, Senior Insurance, LLC LCNB Lebanon Citizens National Bank, Southern State Community College and St. Catherine’s Manor.

“These businesses have gone the extra step into making sure the Chamber can serve this community,” said Bowers.

The meeting’s theme was “Grow With Us,” which Bowers explained was inspired by the new upcoming businesses joining the Chamber, which she said would help “grow the community.”

Each month, the Chamber recognizes a Business of the Month, which Bowers explained is “a business who is making an impact in Fayette County, which has been recognized by their peers.” According to Bowers, the Chamber Ambassadors select the Business of the Month, and they are not chosen by the Chamber Board itself.

Last year, the businesses selected for Business of the Month included Halliday Lumber, First State Bank, Two Scoops of Sugar, Mid Atlantic Storage, Jim Van Dyke’s Automotive Center, Sugar Creek Packing, St. Catherine’s Manor and Atomic Credit Union.

“Businesses of the Month,” said Bowers, “in their own unique way are contributing to the good of our community.” She added, “Thank you.”

Mikki Hunter-Smith was also honored at the Chamber meeting for serving her one year as chairperson. Bowers explained that as president, she had “a lot of decisions to make,” and that Hunter-Smith was always a “listening ear” for her, as well as a “reliable sounding board.”

“I felt she was always at my back supporting my work,” said Bowers. She added, “I will always look to the year with her as one of personal growth, and I am thankful for the support and guidance she handed out so generously.”

With a new year for the Chamber beginning on July 1, the Chamber welcomed a new chairman, Jared Clark.

Clark first worked as a general board member, and then as the vice chair, giving him two years of work under his belt with Bowers. He will now take a leading role in the Chamber for the year of 2023-2024.

“I look forward to working with Jared throughout the rest of the year, under his leadership,” said Bowers.

Bowers also recognized Kim Penwell as vice chair, Robyn Hadden as secretary, and Angie Preston as treasurer.

Other board members that were recognized included Robin Beekman, Sarah Frump, Tom Buscemi, Branen Weade, Kenny Upthegrove, Angie Knecht, Jennifer Snyder and Tom Bailey.

The Chamber invited guest speaker, Derek Chancellor, southwest Ohio regional liaison for Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, to explain how Ohio’s TechCred Program works, and how it can benefit the community of Fayette County.

According to Chancellor, Ohio’s TechCred Program is a state-funded initiative that helps employers and employees acquire technology-focused credentials. The program aims to boost Ohio’s manufacturing talent pool and prepare workers for the tech-infused economy.

“This program,” said Bowers, “is something I truly believe every business could benefit from.”

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