Grove City Record

Lt. Gov. Taylor speaks at GCAC's annual meeting

Chamber plans moves after 'challenging' 2013

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Both the state of Ohio and the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce are looking ahead in 2014.

The Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting at the Grand Oaks Event and Business Center Feb. 12 with Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor providing the keynote speech.

"(The Affordable Care Act) impacts every small business in Ohio and will impact every small business across the country," Taylor said. "It's real. It's out there. There are new requirements we have."

Taylor, who is also director of the Ohio Department of Insurance and Ohio's Common Sense Initiative, said the new regulations of the health care law along with delays in its implementations have created "havoc" in the market, making it hard for insurance companies to predict enrollment and demographics as well driving up premiums.

"Small businesses have a strategic plan," she said. "It's very difficult when you don't know the rules of the game."

Taylor said the state would prefer more consumer- and market-based choice.

Taylor also said the state will be looking at workforce readiness and career training.

"We're focused on creating jobs," she said. "We have a lot of workforce initiatives I think are starting to have a positive impact ... (and) making sure we're educating our workforce for the jobs that actually exist and will exist in the future."

Taylor said the state also is continuing to look at tax and regulatory reform with such goals as lowering individual rates and making it easier and less costly for companies to do business.

"We're going to make government more efficient," Taylor said. "I hope you'll be a part of what we're trying to accomplish in Ohio over the next several years. We can't take our foot off the gas. We have to keep going. We have a full agenda."

The meeting also featured in the swearing-in of the chamber's 2014 executive committee.

The chamber's 2014 officers are President Bob Bright, President Elect Jerry Sowers, Past President Allen Houk, VP of Education Caroline Shroyer, VP of Strategic Planning Scott Vandegrift and VP of Business Development Tricia Zelenak.

The 2014 chamber board of directors includes Patti Crego, Greg Dawkins, Charlene McFarland, Brian Montgomery, Shirley Spellman and Lisa Zeigler.

"This was a challenging year to say the least," Houk said of 2013. "It was a year of sadness, a year of change, and it was a year of joy. ... We have many things left to accomplish as we go forward."

The chamber, Houk said, suffered a 27 percent lapse in membership, which amounted to about a drop of 2 percent in dues income.

"We lost 154 dues-paying members in 2013," he said. "We lost a lot of our small business."

That same year, the chamber added 74 new businesses, many of them larger employers.

Houk said the chamber will work to better promote its Southwest Leadership Group and monitor the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Bright said the chamber is poised to move forward.

"We're working on redeveloping the relationships with some of the other organizations in the city," he said.

Bright said other chamber plans for 2014 include updating its website to be more user-friendly, developing a benefits committee to enhance what it offers to members and participating in a workforce study group with the city.

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