mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

 It is that time of year again when we get together with family and friends to give thanks for the many blessings that we have all been given. It is also time for our whole community to come together to kick off the Christmas season in a very festive way.

Center City Association’s Holiday in the City, which is held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is arguably one of the best events of its kind anywhere. In its 16th year, the celebration kicks off the holiday season in style right in the heart of Springfield’s downtown.

The festival includes many attractions for the whole family to enjoy, especially the little ones. Along with the community Christmas tree, and decorative lights that can be seen on buildings throughout the core block, there is the popular Santa Land and a carousel. There are also street performers, 15 food trucks and vendors, along with many other fun activities happening throughout the core block of downtown. Holiday in the City culminates with Santa’s Arrival, a grand illumination of downtown, and a dazzling fireworks display that will “WOW” the youngest to the oldest in the crowd.

Lori Houseman, Holiday in the City Coordinator, along with the committee and many volunteers hopes you will come to the special festivities happening in downtown this Saturday. You will witness the progress being made with the resurgence of office, retail, and restaurant activity happening in our downtown.  You will also get to see the hard work being done by many key stakeholders, and by the City of Springfield, as we seek to move our downtown forward.  Community events like this one only help highlight these important investments being made in our Center City.

As we all enjoy our time together with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday, let us not forget to stop and thank the one who gave each of us our many blessings. Let us also not forget to take time and enjoy all our great city has to offer; and that includes one of our community’s biggest events, Holiday in the City!

Blessings to you and your family during this week of Thanksgiving!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

 More than 1,100 Clark County 8th graders had a chance to picture themselves pursing their dream jobs in Clark County during the Nov. 12 “It’s All About Me in Clark County” career fair held at the Hollenbeck Bayley Center.

During the all-day event, middle school students from Clark County area school districts met with representatives from 30 local employers including Pentaflex, John Deere, Security National Bank and Speedway who spoke to the students about 16 different career cluster opportunities at their companies, skill sets and education needed for those jobs and potential salaries.

“This way the students are hearing from the employer not from their parent, not from their teacher, but actually from the employer of what it’s going to take for them to be successful and make whatever amount of money they’re looking to make in that career opportunity,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

Students participated in a pre-event career assessment survey to explore how their interests could translate to future careers. Students were surprised to learn that companies, such as Speedway for example, provide job opportunities in a wide variety of areas, including engineering, accounting, IT and even construction.

The third annual “It’s All About Me in Clark County,” was a collaboration among OhioMeansJobs-Clark County, The Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, Clark County school districts and the Community Improvement Corporation of Springfield and Clark County. These officials want students to know that if they go away to college they can return to Clark County, Donahoe said, and find career opportunities in this community.

It is critical for the future of our community that our young people not only be equipped for the jobs of the future but that they have the opportunity to pursue those careers close to home.  That is why it is even more important for the business community to continue to partner with our local schools to make sure we are producing the talent for the jobs being created today and in the future.

Have a great Chamber day!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


Sitting on the corner of Spring and High Streets is one of the most historic and picturesque buildings in downtown Springfield. And while it can be lauded for its architectural splendor, what takes place inside adds to its importance as a local landmark.

The Clark County Literacy Coalition, located in the former Warder Public Library, was founded in 1989. It does what its name implies – addresses literacy issues among a diverse population. The CCLC works with everyone from school-age children to adults and those whose first language is not English. The list of services includes:

  • The Adult Basic Literacy Education program serves adults who need basic literacy help, whether it be reading so they can read to their own children or obtaining a GED;
  • English Speakers of Other Languages addresses those who need to learn to speak our language;
  • Teach Children to Read focuses on children who meet the following criteria: are two levels behind their current grade level and assessed between fifth grade or below in reading.The ever-growing need for a highly-skilled workforce demands that everyone be a highly-functional reader if they expect to access the better paying occupations that in many cases go unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates. For that reason, you can see how important the Literacy Coalition is to our community’s success in attracting and filling jobs that require a high degree of competency.

In working with school-age children the CCLC sees itself as a partner with schools in Clark County, serving those who need extra attention in order to catch up. CCLC Executive Director David Smiddy said it typically will take one year of twice a week, one-hour sessions for a student to move up two reading grade levels.

And with an increasing number of immigrants living in Clark County, their path to future success rests with being able to speak English.

Tutors are the backbone of the CCLC, which has one full-time employee and three part-time. Kathy Piatt may log more hours than any other tutor in the history of CCLC.  Why?  It’s not because she has been at it the longest. Carol Horner gets that award at 21 years!

Kathy, however, started out with one student and then asked if she could tutor more than one.  At present, she has six students, working mostly with special needs children. Whereas, typically tutors volunteer at Warder twice a week for an hour each time, Kathy comes in four days a week, several hours each day.

The City of Springfield owns the building that houses the Literacy Center, and while the Literacy Coalition pays only a nominal fee for use of the building, it is responsible for utilities, upkeep and repair. By occupying the building for its noble purpose, it also keeps in use an historic downtown facility that might otherwise be unoccupied.

Finances are always an issue, Smiddy said, so any donations or support of the CCLC’s fundraising activities are gratefully welcome. Its two largest are the June 5/10K Race for Literacy held the second Saturday in June and a dinner, generously financed by Jim and Niki Lagos, allowing all proceeds to go to the Literacy Center. This year they are selling Christmas cards designed by students/tutors.

The CCLC hopes to establish an endowment fund through the Springfield Foundation. For more information about the Literacy Center, phone 323-8617 or visit its website at https://sites.google.com/a/cclcnet.net/literacycenter/

Chris HeadshotChris Schutte, Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


On November 6th and 7th our community will welcome 140 young women from all over the State of Ohio who will be vying for the title of 2016 MISS OHIO USA, or MISS TEEN OHIO USA. The contestants – along with their families, friends and event staff – will comprise a group of nearly 2000 visitors to Greater Springfield.

The pageants will bring approximately $500,000 in economic impact to our community through hotel room nights, dining in local restaurants, shopping at our retail stores and visiting our attractions. And while this is obviously great news for our community, it may not be the biggest benefit of hosting this premier event.

From the moment we began negotiating with Proctor Productions (the event organizer) to host the pageant, it was evident that they had a very positive perception of our community, and our event facilities. They raved about our “gorgeous” downtown, Clark State’s “fantastic” venues and the “beautiful” Courtyard by Marriott hotel. It was certainly refreshing to hear an outsider’s point of view on Springfield.

Pageant contestants and their families were recently in Springfield for event orientation. We had the opportunity to personally welcome them to Springfield where the event will be held for the first time after a 12-year run in Portsmouth, Ohio. Following the orientation meeting we were able to speak with contestants and their families one-on-one about everything our community has to offer. We again received incredibly positive feedback about Springfield. They are legitimately excited to be here and it shows!

As Greater Springfield’s destination marketing organization, we have the opportunity to hear this kind of positive reinforcement on a regular basis. Trust me when I tell you that visitors love our community! Their opinion is honest and genuine – and not weighed down by past history. They see what Springfield is today, and where we’re going.

No fewer than a dozen people attending the orientation told us – completely unprompted – that they couldn’t wait to get back here for the event, and planned to visit Springfield beyond the event to enjoy our local attractions. This, in essence, is the value of hosting events like MISS OHIO USA.

The MISS OHIO USA pageant offers us yet another opportunity to raise the perception of our community. I would be remiss in not thanking our many local partners who make hosting this event possible: Clark State Performing Arts Center, Courtyard by Marriott, Lee’s Famous Recipe, Sheehan Brothers Vending, Olive Garden, the event committee and our local hotels. From lodging and ticket sales, to staging and contestant meals, you are the driving force behind this event.

Please join us in providing a welcoming atmosphere to the contestants and their families. If you would like to attend the event, just visit Ticketmaster.com and enter “Miss Ohio” in the search box. Selling-out both nights of the event would go a long way towards us retaining this event for years to come!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

We’ve always known there are a lot of great things in Springfield. From outdoor recreation and events, to Arts & Culture and dining, Springfield offers a diverse menu of activities that are difficult to match for cities twice our size!

What better way to highlight these amenities than to ask you – our local residents – to help us identify the Best of Springfield?

Online voting for the Best of Springfield contest opened to the general public on April 15th, and continued until the polls officially closed on August 30th. The only eligibility requirement was that the business – or attraction – be based in Clark County. The voting was promoted via billboards, print advertisements and social media.

In that time we received more than 3000 ballotscovering 18 different categories focused on local dining, shopping and entertainment. This incredible response – and the wide variety of answers – far exceeded our expectations. Voting in many of the categories was very tight with some of the winners overtaking their competition in the final days of voting.

On October 22nd the winners were announced at the first annual Best of Springfield Celebration at Clark State’s Hollenbeck Bayley Center. 350 event attendees enjoyed great food, live music and a special wine tasting with Cameron Hughes. The winners received a special framed plaque designating them as “The Best of the Best 2015”, and window clings announcing the designation to their clients and customers.

All of the winners, along with the second and third place finishers in each category, are featured in the new Best of Springfield magazine which debuted at the event. We will be distributing the magazine via mail, and at a number of local pick-up points including the lobby of Commerce Pointe downtown.

This contest would not have been possible without you, the voters. Thank you for sharing your opinion on what makes Springfield great. And to the winners, congratulations on your achievement and we hope you wear your new title proudly!

Best Breakfast Spot: Bob Evans
Best Lunch Spot: Mike & Rosy’s
Best Fine Dining: Seasons Bistro
Best Pizza & Subs: Bada Bing
Best Sushi: Sake 3
Best Chicken & Wings: Buffalo Wild Wings
Best Burger: Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Best Coffee & Bakery: Schuler’s Bakery
Best Ice Cream: Young’s Jersey Dairy
Best Date Night Spot: O’Conner’s Irish Pub
Best Bar/Nightclub: O’Conner’s Irish Pub
Best Place to Watch the Game: Buffalo Wild Wings
Best Family Fun: Young’s Jersey Dairy
Best Local Attraction: Westcott House
Best Local Event: Summer Arts Festival
Best Outdoor Recreation: Buck Creek State Park
Best Salon & Spa: Oasis Salon & Spa
Best Locally Owned Retail Store: Champion City Guide + Supply

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


One of the Springfield area’s greatest assets is its scenic parks and extensive bike trails. We are fortunate to have beautiful green spaces and trails located throughout the county providing recreational venues for everyone to enjoy. Sustaining our sense of community is why we all need to vote “YES” to renew the parks levy when we go to the polls on November 3rd.

The Clark County Park District is asking voters to renew a 0.6-mill, 10-year joint property tax that generates about $1.3 million annually for maintenance of local green spaces and parks. If voters approve it, the levy will not increase taxes and will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home just $21 annually to protect the parks in our area for us, our children and the generations to come.

Our support of assets like the Estel Wenrick Wetlands, George Rogers Clark Park, both Reid and Snyder Parks, the county’s bike trails, Veteran’s Amphitheatre, and various other green space amenities will help promote our sense of place and further enrich this region.

The joint levy was first passed as a five-year levy in 2011 and it expires at the end of 2016. The money is used for maintaining parks and green spaces and cannot be used for revenue-generating operations like Reid Park Golf Course, Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center or the NTPRD Chiller. The money is divided between the two park districts based on their acreage of parks, green spaces and multi-use trails. National Trail receives 72 percent of the levy funds, while Clark County takes in about 28 percent.

The American Planning Association estimates that a park within 1,500 feet of a home increases the home’s value by an average of $1,214 for an urban park, and $10,648 for natural areas and other green spaces. A National Association of Home Builders survey found that 65 percent of home shoppers said parks would influence them to move to a community. A survey from the National Association of Realtors reported that half of respondents would pay 10 percent more to live near a park or protected open space.

NTPRD maintains about 1,300 acres of parkland and 30 miles of bike trails. The Clark County Park District maintains hundreds of acres of dense woods, hiking and walking trails, waterfalls and large lakes while running several historic sites, including George Rogers Clark Park, the Battle of Peckuwe historical battle site and the Hertzler House museum.

NTPRD has made several improvements to its parks including the Rotary Centennial Playground, the Friends of Snyder Park Sprayground and the Central Bark Dog Park. The district also completed the Warder Fit Stop and the Buck Creek Nature Park behind Carleton Davidson Stadium.

When people rate a city’s quality of life, parks always make it to the top of the list. Renewal of this levy is critical to the operation and future of our parks, and is a good investment for those of us who live here, or will in the future. Please join me in voting “YES” on November 3rd.

Have a Great Chamber Day!

Dog and Man

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


My wife and I have a dog named Max. He is a three year old black lab who loves shoes and taking runs on the bike trail. Like many dogs, Max has a big heart and lives life to the fullest every day. Last week, I met “Dog Man” Martin Buser, who spoke about his sixteen dogs that love life and run on a different kind of trail.

Born in Switzerland in 1958, Buser began mushing at age 17. In 1979 he moved to Alaska and began to train and raise sled dogs full-time. He entered his first Iditarod in 1980 and has competed in every one since 1986. He is a four-time winner and has finished in the top-ten sixteen times.

In the lower 48 (as Alaskans call us), we do not hear much about the annual event known as the “Last Great Race on Earth.”  Every year the famous race starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome with each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher covering over 1,150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful and rugged Alaskan terrain in just 10 to 17 days.

Buser, who has logged more than 50,000 miles on the Alaskan trail, dedicates his recently finished book “Dog Man” to all the people that have ever had the pleasure to be influenced by a dog. He quips, “Near or far, warm or cold, dogs have lived with humans and bettered us throughout.” In his book, he describes his life’s journey and adventures, his misadventures, and the lessons he learned from his devoted relationship with his canine friends.

When training dogs for the Iditarod, Buser says he looks for “50 pound dogs with 100 pound hearts!” He says to compete in the Iditarod, the team must possess pure determination and a strong will to finish the grueling race. He says, “I know exactly where my limits are; I step over them every day.”

He also talks about how the race has changed, and how he and his team must continually adapt and innovate in order to compete at the highest level. In 2002 his team completed the race in only 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, and 2 seconds which is the second fastest finish time in history. I guess it is safe to say that incredible achievement did not happen by accident.

I really enjoyed meeting Martin Buser and hearing the story about his long journey. I could relate it to what we are trying to do in working to make our community better. As we seek to help move the Greater Springfield Community forward we need to realize that like the Iditarod, this is going to be a long hard race filled with lots of twists and turns and jagged edges to take us off course. However, we will need to team up to keep the vision and master plan in front of us and continue to press on toward the goal and not stop until we cross the finish line together.


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