A year after the merger of the Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington chambers of commerce, Tri-Village Chamber Partnership officials and those from member communities are expecting a dynamic 2017.

On March 31, 2016, Tri-Village Chamber Partnership Executive Director Michelle Wilson announced the newly formed organization, born of the consolidation of the Grandview and Upper Arlington chambers of commerce. Wilson said she expected it to become an innovator of business services in the region.

Last week, chamber leaders hosted the organization's annual meeting at the Ohio State University Biomedical Research Tower.

Leaders noted the year following the merger was one of learning and growth, but they hope 2017 will be a year in which chamber events and services are further honed.

"The merger took precedent over every single thing we had done leading up to 2016," said Jamie Gentry, co-chairman of the chamber's board of directors in 2016. "Overall, it's been a great year.

"I'm excited to see where 2017 can take us."

During the March 9 gathering, the chamber distributed a revealing 2016 treasurer's report that showed new partnerships aren't necessarily overnight successes.

Overall, the chamber's expenses for the year outpaced revenues by $11,932.

But some events that had become traditions for the Grandview and Upper Arlington chambers continued to flourish, Gentry said.

They included the sixth annual Digfest, a celebration of local libations that drew more than 5,000 attendees; and the 23rd annual Taste of UA, which attracted more than 3,000 visitors and participation from more than 60 vendors and 100 volunteers.

Gentry said a business expo is being developed this year to help members network and promote their businesses.

Chamber President Laura Oldham said plans are in place this year to expand the chamber's social-media reach to both promote the chamber and its members, as well as to build connections between businesses and the community. She added chamber officials will analyze the group's events this year to improve engagement for members and entertainment for those who attend.

"Our goals for this year are just to improve efficiencies overall," Oldham said.

Another goal for 2017 is to boost membership.

Wilson said the chamber has 602 members, and the organization wants to grow by at least 100 members this year.

To aid that effort, the chamber will offer incentives to members, including a free membership for 2018 for anyone who enrolls three new members, and a chance to win a prize valued at $2,500 that includes donated products and services for each new member a person or business recruits.

"For the membership this year, our goal is 100 new members on the roster," said Rob Maccabee, chamber membership chairman. "We want to see our organization as a community of connectors."

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