In tough economic times, business owners and managers and executives have to pull together to help one another pull through, in John Dunn's view.

In tough economic times, business owners and managers and executives have to pull together to help one another pull through, in John Dunn's view.

"I think it's crucial," he said.

One of the ways that people in business can accomplish this pulling together is through membership in a chamber of commerce. Of course, as the recently installed president of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, Dunn is pretty much bound to follow that party line.

However, the Springfield native said that he's observed communities going through tough times and knows the value of people who've been there and done that, offering their experience and just plain sympathy to one another.

"It fosters relationships," Dunn said of chamber membership, "not only business relationships but also personal relationships, and for a small community I think that's essential.

"It allows you to exchange ideas."

Dunn is vice president of operations for the Hilliard-based MacIntosh Co., which provides nursing, assisted living and home health services in central Ohio. Dunn has been with MacIntosh for the past 14 years. He was promoted to his current position in 1997, following a stint as administrator of the Monterey Care Center.

Dunn moved to Grove City in 1993. He actually proposed to his wife, Susan, in Plank's Restaurant. They have two children, 13-year-old Tyler and Carly, 11.

Dunn grew up in Springfield, the youngest of five children. His mother and father were both in the health care field and when young John went off to Kent State University in 1982, following in the footsteps of two of his three brothers, he planned to follow in the footsteps of his parents, as well. But after starting his studies, Dunn found his own niche within the world of health care and switched his major to the growing field of gerontology. He was influenced, in part, by the experience of having both of his grandmothers and some elderly aunts come and live with the family in Springfield as their lives drew to a close.

While attending Kent State, Dunn worked in several nursing home facilities, and after graduating he trained for nine months at a center in Marietta in order obtain his license as an administrator.

In his 20 years in the field, Dunn said, he has seen a major shift in emphasis. In the old days, people went into nursing homes "to pass," he said.

Now it's more and more intended as a brief stay in order to get better and get back home.

Up until recently, Dunn said, most of what spare time his job provided has been devoted to his son and daughter; he estimated that he's coached anywhere from 30 to 40 sports teams on which one or another of the children played. Now that they're a bit more grown up, he's had a bit more time to become more involved in the community, and the chamber has increasingly become an outlet for that involvement.

Dunn said he learned a lot during his time as president-elect last year, and hopes during the coming year to build upon the successes of 2008, when Jamie Wieging was president.

Among his goals, Dunn said, are retaining existing members while gaining many, many more; keeping the not-for-profit organization within its budget; fostering existing relationships, such as the one with South-Western City Schools, for which the chamber has a scholarship fund; and continuing the growth and improvement of the annual Farmers Market and Arts in the Alley. An Ambassador Program started last year that employs volunteer members to reach out to other members to find out how the chamber can better serve them "has been really positive," Dunn said, and he wants to continue it in the coming year.

Basically, Dunn said, he wants the chamber to keep doing what it's doing, keep doing it well and look for new opportunities to serve members.

"He brings a lot to the table," chamber executive director Bill Diehl said of Dunn.