ThisWeek recently spoke to Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce. This is an edited version of that interview.

ThisWeek recently spoke to Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce. This is an edited version of that interview.

ThisWeek : How long have you lived in the Hilliard area?

Gierach: I have been in the community probably 31 years. We were in the Hilliard area, transferred to Charleston, W. Va., for three years, and when we were transferred back, my husband and I chose to come back to this area because by that time we had two children (now adults), and we wanted to raise our family in the Hilliard School District.

ThisWeek : Prior to joining the chamber, what was your business background?

Gierach : I went to Wittenberg University and have a B.A. in elementary education. When I was single, I worked in the hotel industry as a reservations manager for a large convention hotel in Cleveland. I also worked for my sorority's (Delta Gamma) headquarters here in Columbus for five years.

ThisWeek : How did you get involved with the chamber of commerce?

Gierach : I was on a committee for a strategic plan for the Hilliard City Schools, and one of my fellow chairs was the then-head of the Hilliard Chamber of Commerce, and he asked if I would be at all interested in working at the chamber on a part-time basis. Their paid professional was pregnant and going on maternity leave.

I thought what a great idea. I love working in the community, and thought that would be another great opportunity. From part-time working 8-10 hours a week, it has now become my full-time profession. I've been with the Chamber 17 years, 10 as president.

It's like being on the Hilliard City School District Board of Education -- I never thought I would be on the school board 12 years. It was never anything that I sought out. I was asked to serve as a volunteer coordinator for one of the bond issues, and that's what started me getting involved with the school district. When some people were not going to run again, they approached me to run for that office, and I successfully ran three times. It was very enjoyable, and I did that concurrently as I was working with the chamber. The synergy was great.

ThisWeek : Why should businesses join a chamber of commerce?

Gierach : We have 420 members. Businesses join for many reasons. Studies show consumers think more highly of a business if they are a member of a chamber of commerce.

We have great connecting events. What we try to do is connect businesses with each other, so they can both benefit from the services that each may have for each other. We try to connect customers with the businesses as well by looking at different opportunities we can promote the business in the community. People will join because of the benefits of the chamber.

We sponsor events such as Taste of Hilliard, Holly Fest, a trip to Ireland, luncheons and morning business networking sessions, Hilliard Farm Market, Leadership Hilliard program, and are involved in the Hilliard Community Foundation.

Advocacy -- that's another reason to join the chamber. We speak on behalf of business to our local, state and federal governments. Smaller businesses do not have the time to take that aspect on as well, so we speak on what is in the best interest of the businesses.

We are in support of Issue 1 on the May ballot as it will provide jobs for our area.

I'm very big into social media -- Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. That is where people are making an impact for their businesses. I tweet a lot -- I've gotten three new members just from Twitter.

ThisWeek : What do you like about living in the Hilliard School District?

Gierach : We have so many advantages in Hilliard. We're so easy to get around, everything is so accessible. The school district is phenomenal. I think that's a big draw for people to come to this area. Even if you don't have children, it's good for resale value.

We have great people who have really invested their own capital, especially the small business owners here, they are just so friendly.

I just love Hilliard, I wouldn't live anywhere else. We'll be here for a long time. I really want Hilliard to be successful, to keep growing and honoring the past and bringing those two together. We can keep Hilliard on the right path for growth, as well as a quality place to live and raise our families.