Blanchester Area Chamber of Commerce
Blanchester, OH 45107
Blanchester Area Chamber of Commerce brief history
In 1953, a group of Blanchester businessmen, including Postmaster Robert Jacoby, L. E.
Gundler, C. Brommund, and F. Conover, discussed the possibility of organizing a local Chamber
of Commerce. After much discussion, the group decided to apply to the Ohio Chamber of
Commerce for a local charter.
The charter was issued a short time later, listing Robert Jacoby as President. With the help of
numerous individuals: Bill Detwiller, Bill Rowe, Glen McHenry, Bob Magill, Dottie Clifton, Gerald
Lovins, Stan Dorsey, Jack Crawford and others, the Chamber of Commerce trudged along for 23
years sponsoring various events, urging local businesses to excel and putting Blanchester on
the map in its proper perspective.
Probably the most noteworthy event during that period besides the annual meeting was the
Fourth of July Festival, which was held downtown and consisted of rides and food concessions,
the latter of which were manned by churches and other benevolent organizations. It was one of
the best organized events in the entire area, until the late 1970s when interest in the organization
began to wane, no one was willing to accept a position of leadership and the Blanchester
Chamber of Commerce disappeared from the scene.
In 1981, a businessman, Elmer Williams, appeared on the scene, having recently served five
years in the Ohio Jaycee Organization as State and National Board Member and State President,
and subsequently tapped by President Dwight Eisenhower to serve as State Chairman of
Eisenhower's Council for Economic Development.
Jim Dorsey, an activist and a principle in Dorsey Drugs, approached Williams about
re-establishing a Chamber of Commerce in Blanchester. He agreed to accept the challenge,
subject to the fulfillment of a promise by Dorsey to furnish names of potential members. The two
working together along with a number of former members and other interested parties were able
to put together a working organization within a few months. Williams was elected to serve as
President, with the support of local businesspeople such as Chad Hollon, Lorn Smith, Cindy
Sutton and local Kroger Manager Jay Munz.
Williams' forte was community development; he had developed a community attitude survey for
the Jaycees that had since been used in 83 countries around the world. He expressed a desire to
use the survey in Blanchester and Munz completely enveloped himself in the operation, doing all
the printing, distribution and helping with tabulation of the results. The outcome was the
exposure of a number of needs expressed by citizens of the community, into which members of
the Chamber felt they could get involved.
Projects like restoration of the Fourth of July Celebration quickly came to the fore. There were
multiple pleas for youth activity, health services, control of teenage hecklers gathering outside
downtown shops, Christmas activity, upgrading of storefronts and numerous ideas such as a
choosing a town motto, the latter of which was solved in short order with a contest, which
produced the slogan, "A Small Town With a Big Heart."
As the result of a Chamber-sponsored town meeting, SAY Soccer offered a helpful solution to
providing more activity for youth. Interested citizens picked up on the idea and a number of
years later John Hravosky, a local machine shop owner, purchased a piece of land near
Blanchester High School and dedicated it to youth soccer.
The Clinton Memorial Hospital established a new medical facility on Cherry Street. Shopkeepers
started sprucing up their buildings and sweeping their sidewalks. The police department got the
hecklers under control. Members of the Chamber started a teen club.
In 1982, with Dorsey and Williams heading up the committee, the Blanchester Chamber
spearheaded a celebration of Blanchester's Sesquicentennial with a week of notable events,
which included all sorts of contests, displays, games, a Governor's Dinner and a grand finale at
the end of a week, to which professional talent who had emanated from Blanchester were invited
to return and help entertain the citizens in a huge gala staged in front of the high school football
Throughout the reorganization and for many years since, the Blanchester Area Chamber of
Commerce has benefited bountifully from the help of certain dedicated individuals in the
community who were called upon over and over and who never faltered in their support. They
were Don Walker, local fireman and employee of the Board of Public Affairs, along with Mike
Willhite and Fred Burchett. Sam Willman, Dave Craig, Phil Rose and local historian John Simpson
were among those who volunteered their talent, services and information over and over. There
was a little band called The John Street Garage made up of Ken Dunlap and Werner Crawford
and others who unselfishly donated their talent free of charge for event after event, year after
year. Industries and businesses, such as Mike Cottle of First National Bank, Allen Dohan of the
Allen Company, and United Dairy Farmers all have been generous in their continued financial
support of worthwhile causes on a continuing basis.
At one point the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the dropping of 1,000 $1 bills provided by
one-time local builder Gerald Lovins, who came back to Blanchester in appreciation and released
the money from a helicopter, attracting media attention from New York to California. Cameramen
came from far and wide to cover what they predicted would be a stampede. The event was so
well managed, they left terribly disappointed.
During the early years of reorganization the Chamber of Commerce hosted a very large,
three-ring circus on the lawn of Blanchester High. Residents were thrilled at the sight of
elephants raising the tents and tent poles. It was the largest circus ever to appear in the
The BACC very quickly resumed the annual Independence Day Celebration, along with a car
show and various venues of entertainment.
Later in the 1980s, members of the BACC working with Dr. Bob Lucas, President Emeritus of
Wilmington College, along with the Blanchester C.I.C, helped establish Blanchester as a Free
Enterprise Zone and played a big part in welcoming American Showa to Blanchester..
Besides providing Christmas lights for downtown Blanchester and sponsoring a visit from Santa
Claus for years, the BACC after the turn of the century planted a Community Christmas Tree in
front of the Municipal Building and during that same time established a Christmas Parade and
other downtown events for the holidays..
Over the past 25 years, the BACC has annually recognized important contributions to the
community by awarding the Citizen of the Year, Businessman of the Year and Businesswoman of
During the past several years, the BACC sponsored a number of celebrity roasts, conducts an
annual Business Symposium at Blanchester High, and provides a scholarship for Blanchester
After experimenting with relocating the annual Independence Day Celebration at the site of the
new Municipal Building, the BACC in 2008 moved the festivities back to its original location
downtown and substituted inflatable games for the mechanical rides, a move that has proved
satisfactory to all.
In 2010, the BACC hosted the Clinton County Bicentennial Parade, producing the largest parade
and probably the largest crowd in Blanchester's history.
The genius of the success of the BACC is in the practice of member involvement and
participation rather than hiring others to do the menial and sometimes mundane tasks of running
an organization. The key to leadership lies solely in participation.