Dublin Chamber of Commerce evolving during COVID-19 pandemic

Sarah Sole
ThisWeek group
Dublin Chamber of Commerce members Stephanie Megas and Jerod Cook pack “swag bags” Sept. 23 at the chamber’s office. The bags were for the organization’s golf outing held Sept. 28 at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Since 1988, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce offices have been at 129 S. High St., but in its infancy, the organization was run from executive director Margery Amorose’s house.   

Amorose, whose title was executive secretary in those days, said a special green phone sat right next to the house phone on the kitchen counter.   

Children Chris (now Chris Amorose Groomes, Dublin’s mayor) and Jenny Amorose (now the Dublin Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer) were instructed not to answer it.  

The chamber this year is marking 45 years as an organization, and it looks much different from what it looked like in the beginning. For that matter, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it looks much different from how it looked in the beginning of 2020. 

At 45 years old, the chamber has grown in size, as has Dublin, but Amorose said the organization’s role remains unchanged.  

The chamber always has strived to support the business community and connect with the city and Dublin City Schools, she said.   

The foundations for the chamber were laid in the early 1970s, when Dublin was a rural farming community, Amorose said.   

At that time, several business people in the city began meeting together regularly and talking about the community.   

Amorose was acquainted with the participants and at one point helped obtain a speaker for one of their gatherings, she said.   

Once Muirfield Village and the accompanying golf courses were planned, the group began thinking about the community’s future, Amorose said.   

“They felt business would follow it,” she said.   

The chamber began in 1975, and the organization’s articles of incorporation were officially filed in 1976, she said.   

At its start, the chamber had about 20 members, Amorose said. Now, the organization has more than 1,200 members. About 80% of the business members have less than 10 employees, she said.   

About 20 years ago, the chamber had fewer than 1,000 members, said Bill Cseplo, who served as chamber president from 2002 to 2003.   

During that time, Cseplo and a group of chamber board members visited Dublin, Ireland, to exchange business and cultural ideas with that city’s chamber of commerce, he said.   

“It was an interesting combination of people that had like-minded interests,” he said.   

Before the birth of social media, the chamber served as a way to meet people and exchange ideas, in addition to an outlet for community involvement, Cseplo said.   

Fostering interaction between members has always been a chamber tenet.   

Amorose said the staff strives to get members together for social gatherings to foster networking.   

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to that, she said. Instead, they have been trying to meet online, although it is not the same as face-to-face interaction.   

Chamber president Bill Andrews said the manner in which  business is conducted has changed because of the pandemic and will remain changed.   

Much of the new developments, such as online meetings, bring more efficiency, he said. Because of that emerging trend, the chamber will continue to do online programming, Andrews said.   

He said the organization will also continue to focus on its programming for young professionals, women in business and small business.   

Continuing to foster communication between the chamber and the city is also key, he explained. The chamber formally meets quarterly with city representatives to discuss existing and prospective businesses in Dublin, he said.   

Amorose said the future will continue to bring more growth in Dublin business.   

The chamber’s membership will grow as a result, and will have different needs, she said.   

Amorose said she did not have a clear picture of what those future needs might be but was clear about the chamber’s role.   

“Our goal will be to answer those needs,” she said.   

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