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New president seeks more small businesses

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

SOUTH POINT, Ohio -- New Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Rowe knows the way to success is through bringing more small businesses to the community.

Rowe, 42, of Ironton, has been on the job a week. He doesn't plan to attempt bringing in a big company with 500 to 1,000 jobs. Instead, he plans to concentrate on bringing in and building up small businesses.

He replaces Bob Smith, the former WSAZ television news anchor who served as chamber president for several years before retiring at the end of the year.

"We need to build around small business," Rowe said Monday. "My goal is to try to help the community grow and recruit new businesses."

An Ironton High School graduate, Rowe graduated from Ohio University with a degree in electronic and computer engineering. He started working at the former Cabletron business in Ironton, working there for five years before taking a position with Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia at Buffalo, W.Va., for about a year.

He then took a job with Liebert Corporation in Ironton, working there for a dozen years, the last six years as plant manager. He resigned more than a year ago to make an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for Lawrence County treasurer.

Rowe said the chamber position suits his strengths and his goals for this area.

"I enjoy working with people," he said. "I like to see small business succeed. We need to promote business in our area. My interest is in business and development in the area."

Bill Dingus, the chamber's executive director, said the chamber can't afford a full-time salary, but it requires someone with a full-time commitment.

"We're very pleased that Jerry Rowe has joined our chamber team," Dingus said. "He has a real desire to serve. He'll be committed to help small business progress and grow in Lawrence County."

"I'm trying to get acclimated to the job," Rowe said. "I've been setting up my e-mail and getting acclimated. I feel it's a good fit for me. I'll be doing fundraising and recruiting new chamber members, but I'll also be out there trying to recruit new business."