A group of people stand outside a white building with a gray roof.
Members of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce who attended its annual meeting pose for a group photo outside of the Mount Vernon Estate on Nov. 2, 2023.

ASHLAND — The Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce hosted new traditions, welcomed 48 new members and started a monthly newsletter in the last year, according to its president, Amy Daubenspeck. 

Angela Ringler, the outgoing board chair of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, addresses the crowd at the Chamber’s annual meeting on Nov. 2, 2023.

At its annual meeting on Thursday, Daubenspeck, along with the Chamber’s outgoing board chair, Angela Ringler and Emily Grimm, the Chamber’s director of membership and marketing, highlighted the Chamber’s work over the last year. 

The meeting took place at Mount Vernon Estate on Thursday afternoon. The Chamber’s work, Daubenspeck told the crowd, helps to build up Ashland. 

They also handed out awards to individuals and businesses to recognize their dedication to the Chamber, service to the community and involvement in the Ashland Young Professionals group. 

“It’s a great reflection of the entire year,” said Grimm, the director of membership and marketing at the Chamber. “We really do love what we do and that we’re able to serve the business community in this aspect.”

A year in review

The Chamber of Commerce piloted many new programs and events this year. 

Amy Daubenspeck, the president of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, highlights the chamber’s new programs, events and accomplishments from the last year at its annual meeting on Nov. 2, 2023.

Daubenspeck’s speech at the annual meeting highlighted the Chamber’s mini-grant program, which offered funds to local businesses. 

She also discussed the Chamber’s efforts to engage Ashlanders, both with a podcast and with a new monthly newsletter. 

New events happened this year, including the Chamber’s first women’s conference, “Ignite: Mind, Body, Soul.” Daubenspeck said she’s excited to make the event an annual one. 

Thanks to Schmidt Security Pro, who donated a grill to the Chamber, it was able to host tailgates this year. It also hosted its first hot dog eating contest in conjunction with Ashland’s Halloween festivities, with proceeds going to Ashland’s United Way. 

Grimm said that type of donation is something she views as “invaluable.” 

“Something like wanting to give the Chamber a grill allows us to take extra time and talk to people and understand our members better,” Grimm said.

At the event, Christine Copper, the president of the North Central State College Foundation, also shared about a partnership with the NCSC Foundation and Chamber. The partnership offers members a gift of up to five different types of certificates offered to Chamber businesses for free.

Copper said four are online certificates:

  • Operations management
  • Substance abuse
  • Microsoft application
  • Certified bookkeeping

Award recipients

The Chamber also gives out four awards to individuals or businesses at the annual meeting.

Grimm presented the “Spirit of the Chamber” awards. One went to an individual, and another to a business. Awardees are recognized based on dedication and service to the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce throughout the year. 

This year, the “Spirit of the Chamber” awards went to Lindsey Hoover, who works at Simonson Construction Services, and to Schmidt Security Pro.

Joe Baumgard, a security and fire safety consultant with Schmidt Security Pro, said he was grateful for the award. He said the company is part of six different Chambers of Commerce and continues to grow and bring in new employees. 

The Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, Baumgard said, is focused on helping businesses achieve growth. 

“Emily [Grimm] and Amy [Daubenspeck] are fantastic for what they do, not just for me, but for this community,” Baumgard said. 

Grimm also awarded the Ashland Young Professionals “Rockstar” of the Year Award, which goes to a member of the group who went above and beyond. This year’s recipient was Bri Noel, a financial advisor with Edward Jones. 

Todd Geren, a vice president at Sutton Bank, received The Jim Lingenfelter Service Award. 

That award is given in honor of Jim Lingenfelter. He was a longtime member of the Mohican Area Growth Foundation, Rotary Club of Loudonville and more. The award recognizes citizens who make Ashland County “a better place to live, work, and raise a family.” 

In addition to the awards, the event also recognized businesses that have been Chamber members for 25 years.

The Chamber also approved its new board members and officers, and recognized those terming out: Sandy Burkholder, Jim Cutright and Wendell Swartzentruber. 

Cutright, the president of the Ashland County Community Foundation, said serving on the board was a great experience. He encouraged people to serve on boards in Ashland. 

“I can say that every board I’ve ever served on, I have gotten more than I gave,” Cutright said. “… I’ve always said when I’ve been presented with opportunities to serve, I’ve tried to treat that as an opportunity to do something, not be something.”

Swinging for the fences

For Daubenspeck, who’s served as the president of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce since 2019, it’s been an adventure. 

When she stepped up to lead, she had to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with that hurdle, Daubenspeck said she always tries to “swing for the fences.” 

Watching the Chamber grow from then to today, she said, has been “incredible.” 

“I’m hoping the business community appreciates what we do,” Daubenspeck said. “And we’re glad to serve them.”

This independent, local reporting provided by our Report for America Corps members is brought to you in part by the generous support of the Ashland County Community Foundation.

Ashland Source's Report for America corps member. She covers education and workforce development, among other things, for Ashland Source. Thomas comes to Ashland Source from Montana, where she graduated...