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Erie County Chamber of Commerce Announces New Interim Director and Dynamic Strategic Plan Action

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June 22, 2021
Erie County Chamber of Commerce Announces New Interim Director and Dynamic Strategic Plan Action

For Official Release: June 22, 2021
Embargoed until 4 p.m. 

The Erie County Chamber of Commerce (ECCOC) today announced exciting new plans to reinvent itself as the leading private sector economic development organization in the greater Sandusky region. Matt Maschari, the current chair of ECCOC announced the hiring of Joe Roman, the just retired CEO of the neighboring Greater Cleveland Partnership Chamber of Commerce, as the principal consultant to lead and coordinate the creation of a new strategic plan for the chamber and region. Roman will also simultaneously lead the chamber activities as its Interim Director during the planning process to ensure an integrated plan and reorganization outcome by mid-Fall of this year. 

The ECCOC has been working with Roman for over a year on a pro bono basis to assess new opportunities for rebuilding the economy as a result of the pandemic. More importantly to the ECCOC leadership is the opportunity to better leverage what Roman describes as "a portfolio of hospitality attractions, advanced manufacturing potential and highly desirable work life balance options that other regions in the country are now offering financial incentives for to compete". Roman, well known nationally for building the largest combined regional chamber of commerce and full economic development organization in the country. He worked in Cleveland for over 35 years and played leading and major roles in the redevelopment of downtown, helping to create new local school strategies and the creation of an affiliated real estate development arm that has helped to realize over $2 billion in new projects in Cleveland's downtown and neighborhoods. 

Maschari said that this was the perfect window for the ECCOC's actions. "The former ECOCC director resigned early this year and the chamber needed a seasoned pro to rebuild the organization so Roman is the perfect "two-fer" who can do that and help us build a better aligned private economic development pathway for our future". The leading three private business organizations, Firelands Hospital, Cedar Fair and Civista Bank have all agreed with the ECCOC Executive Committee to be major actors and funders in the chamber's redevelopment and the efforts to create a new strategic plan in partnership with the public sector. 

"The new Chamber, with a likely name change to come, will be a private based organization building off the many businesses in the region", Roman said, but working hand in hand with the public sector will be its hallmark." Eric Wobser, Sandusky's City Manager is also "all-in" he says as an ex-officio member of the chamber's board. "This kind of public-private partnership organization is critical for the Sandusky region right now and we look forward to partnering with the chamber and its new leadership to develop a comprehensive and actionable vision for further economic growth," Wobser said. 

Duff Milkie, former General Counsel at Cedar Fair, one of the largest employers in the area, sees a potent new organization and private sector commitment as the "best way to link our amazing assets in the region together to earn a growth trajectory surpassing the past generation." "Treasures such as our hospitality industry, NASA, remarkable islands and manufacturing expertise so close to metro centers like Cleveland amidst the largest supply of North American fresh water are our building blocks that are unmatched in the Midwest". 

After a 4-5 month review process seeking input from around the region, ECCOC intends to relaunch its organization, governance structure and development priorities to be ready for full implementation at the end of 2021. ECCOC will also name a steering committee task force of local leaders to work with Roman on the plan in addition to the chamber's executive committee. 

Contacts : Matt Maschari (419-656-1320) or Joe Roman (216-337-0732) 

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Erie County Chamber, Kimberly Montana, (419) 625-6421