Pam Miller knows what makes chambers of commerce work.

As a young, single mom with a real-estate license, Miller joined her local chamber of commerce in Piqua.

Her strategy? Show up to everything.

She eventually would come to manage malls and shopping centers, the result of her ground-level involvement with local business -- the same commitment to building relationships that landed her a job as executive director of the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce in 2005.

Since late June, Miller has brought that energy to her new post as the Greater Powell Area Chamber of Commerce's executive director. Forced to hit the ground running, Miller came to Powell a mere three weeks prior to the chamber's big Taste of Powell event.

"We were a lot behind the eight ball, but we pulled it off. It wasn't as big as we'd have liked, but we expect everything to be bigger and better in 2020," Miller said from the chamber's new offices, 44 N. Liberty St.

Despite the immediacy of her work on Taste of Powell, Miller said her priority is to get the lay of the land in southern Delaware County.

"I'm a person that does their homework and their research, to figure things out, and then puts a plan together," Miller said. "I didn't really know Indian Lake when I moved there, and we grew from nothing into something. The challenges here are different. There's a lot of relationship-building to be done. But there is so much to work with."

Miller said the multiple layers of businesses in the area, from the shops in the city center to the commercial development in the growing parts of Powell to major destinations such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, can be both a challenge and a boon to the work of a chamber.

"I could tell right away that she thinks outside of the box," chamber Vice President Sabra Kershaw, a vice president with Wesbanco Bank, said of the interview and hiring process. "We know she was beloved by her community and that she was committed to showing the benefit of being a chamber member and the value of a strong chamber."

Miller said that, while she expects to take up to six months to "really get rolling," she has ideas that she intends to bring to work in Powell.

"There are things I've done before that can be incorporated here," she said, "but we need to have a process where there's an idea on the table and everybody brings their perspective to it and it becomes not just Pam's idea."

"The kinds of things she's done and shown she is good at are the kind of things we were looking for," Kershaw said.

The chamber's next major event, Miller said, is the Sept. 8 Downtown Powell Street Market, which will have a new home along North Liberty Street.

"There are some things we'll need to work out," Miller said, adding her board and member volunteers have been instrumental.

The street market will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and feature more than 100 local artists and crafters, plus food trucks.

Despite her short time in Powell, Miller said she believes the goal of economic development is shared among the chamber, city officials and the community at large.

She doesn't view herself as a civic leader, she said; that's for other people in the community to decide.

"I'm just a person working hard and putting my heart into everything I do," she said. "Hopefully, everybody prospers from it."

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