As a chamber member, I wanted to share my experience and the value I believe I receive with the investment I've made in my business by joining the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce.

As a chamber member, I wanted to share my experience and the value I believe I receive with the investment I've made in my business by joining the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce.

I moved here in 1984. I was recruited as a merchandising manager for Madison's, a multiple women's specialty store operation. This job entailed many trips to New York City to buy merchandise.

At the time, TWA had two planes going into N.Y. loaded with buyers from the Union, Gold Circle, Lazarus, Walkers, Children's stores and many other small-store business owners, and of course the Limited buyers.

Sadly, by 1994, Madison's was out of business, as was the Union and many more mom-and-pop stores. Lazarus buyers were now centralized in Atlanta and TWA was down to just one plane that was only half full. Corporate America, "the giants," had eaten up the small businesses.

The story goes on and on and many segments of many small-business owners have lost their businesses.

Four years ago, I bravely began a small business, knowing it would be tough, called Suzy's Helping Hands, a professional organizing and downsizing business.

A year ago, I decided to join the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce. Not being a native of U.A., I was reluctant to join, but as I have slowly gotten involved in the chamber, I have been very encouraged with the new President Becky Hajost. I feel that not only is she involved with some of the corporate giants; she is also extremely dedicated and engaged with helping small businesses expand and thrive.

Becky has taken important steps beyond many other chambers in Columbus and has been opening doors for small businessmen to help keep their businesses growing at a time when corporate America is in control. She has a true understanding of community and is in touch with trying to keep Upper Arlington's businesses thriving while allowing them to remain unique by offering that special mom-and-pop type feeling. I, a strong believer in small businesses, feel that although our struggles are great, we still remain the heart of America.

Many people do not know the strain or hardships that small businesses endure, especially now under such difficult financial conditions. I believe that Upper Arlington, a unique small town, still remains a strong community, but without the support of our small businesses, we cannot sustain our uniqueness. However, I do believe with the strength of the chamber and Becky and her teams, she can not only help small businesses, but continue to assist UA to remain a grass roots family community.

Let's all remember that small towns and small businesses are what America has been built on, and they still remain the heart of America.

Suzan K. Smith
Suzy's Helping Hand
2215 Harwitch Road, Upper Arlington, OH 43221
614-560-5448