Waterville Chamber Of Commerce Names Michelle Smith As Director

Michelle Smith, who has served on the board of directors for several years, was recently named executive director of the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The Waterville Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director knows exactly what the business community and the board of directors expect of her.

“I’ve been on both sides,” said Michelle Smith, who was a chamber member during her tenure as the manager of a Waterville bank and was set to become the chamber board president on January 1.

In fact, Smith – along with president Mike Shroyer and treasurer Brenda Mossing – was part of a team interviewing candidates to fill the position vacated by Jackie Lehman in October, and she was filling in as executive director during the interim.

“I found that I really love this,” she said. “This is my dream job.”

So Smith decided to apply for the position herself.

A New Jersey native, Smith moved to Ohio at age 19 when her father transferred with his job, and she took a part-time teller’s job at the Waterville branch of First Federal of Delta. She remained at the branch for over 30 years, rising to the position of manager.

“I absolutely love Waterville. I know so many of the business owners and the people with the city – Mayor Tim Pedro, the police chief and the fire chief,” she said. “All the relationships are there.”

As she gets settled in, Smith plans to meet with every local business owner to ask: What do you want out of the chamber?

“My main focus is getting out in the community and making the benefits of chamber membership known,” she said. “I think people don’t realize all that the chamber has to offer.”

Through social media and networking opportunities, Smith said she also wants to promote area businesses and keep informed on who is new to town – such as she did with the October 25 opening of Taco Bell.

As the chamber’s executive director, Smith is also planning to add more after-hours networking events for members who cannot easily get away for the monthly luncheons. In addition to organizing the Rock the Block, golf outing, Roche de Boeuf Festival and Halloween events, Smith hopes to bring back the pub crawl and the wine and art auction and get the chamber more involved in the annual downtown Christmas celebration. These activities benefit the chamber businesses and the community alike by promoting cohesiveness, she said.

“I want to build bridges and mend fences,” said Smith. “Between the election and the amphitheater, there’s been a lot of divisiveness in the community. It’s time to get over it and work together for the benefit of the community.”

As chamber director, Smith will also be present at all of the Waterville City Council meetings to answer questions and learn more about what’s going on in town and how the chamber can be a part of it.

“We need to be front and center,” she said.

With many new board members, Smith said she’s excited about the energy and ideas for the coming year, including reduced insurance rates and partnering with other chambers. She also plans to encourage more involvement by members. 

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” she said.

In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband, Brian, and spending time gardening and relaxing on their 5-acre property. She has two sons, ages 20 and 23, who work in the trades.

For more information, visit www.watervillechamber.com.

Check Also

Maumee Middle School Hosts 23 Local Vendors During Health Fair

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and at Maumee Middle School, …