“People like being part of successful organizations,” she said. “We’re pleasant and fun to be around as we help other people.”
The chamber was founded in 1975 as an advocate and a local network for Springboro businesses. When Hughes took over as the president, there were only 350 businesses. Today there are 750 businesses and despite COVID-19, the chamber is growing and thriving. In terms of membership, the Springboro is the third largest chamber in the Miami Valley region after Dayton and Springfield, she said.
The Hometown Expo, which was started in 2001 by Anne Stremanos, has continued to grow each year and before the pandemic, the event attracted 8,000 to 9,000 people. This year’s event was moved to June 5 due to school restrictions and COVID-19 protocols. While she’s not certain about the number of people coming to the 2021 event, Hughes believes that “people are hungry for activity.”
“We haven’t skipped a beat during COVID-19,” she said. “We’re still helping businesses and filtering information and other resources for members to get help.”
Hughes said the chamber worked with city officials and other chambers with various stimulus programs.
“I’m ending my career on a high note and I’m proud of my work,” she said. “It’s been rewarding because I get as much out of it as our people do. It’s a great pleasure to help a business become successful and reap from their success.”
When her son Adam recently left as the chamber’s marketing director for a new opportunity, Hughes suggested to the Board of Directors that they replace her first and let the new president choose the new marketing director. While she is planning to leave in October, the board is planning to have her replacement by July.
As for her future, Hughes said she and her significant other as well as another couple will be sharing a recreational vehicle to do some travelling, something she said she’s excited about. She also plans to spend more time with her four grown children and four grandchildren.
Hughes will continue be active in the community as a member of the Springboro Historical Society, the Warren County Foundation and Heatherwoode HOA board.
Hughes will be missed by city and business leaders.
“Carol Hughes has been a pillar of the community in many different roles over the past several years and will be sorely missed as executive director for the Chamber of Commerce,” said City Manager Chris Pozzuto. “Whomever takes over for her will have very big shoes to fill.”
Longtime local businessman Charles Anderson said Hughes “is a wonderful person and a hard worker.
“She was always an advocate for Springboro and was always a positive influence,” he said. “I wish her the best and she will be missed.”
Bryan Hunter, a chamber board member and president and founder of 937 Payroll LLC, is leading the search committee for Hughes’ replacement. He said people in the Springboro community love Hughes because she genuinely cares about her members and their success.
He said when he joined as a chamber member which led to him getting more involved in the chamber activities for 10 years. Hunter said she made him feel welcome and helped to connect with other small business owners that made him want to stay involved.
“The business expo sells out every year,” Hunter said. “Carol picked up from where Anne left off and continued to grow the expo to the point that there is a waiting list to participate.”
As of Thursday, 21 people have filed applications for the position and some interviews will begin next week, he said. Hunter said application period will remain open through the end of May and interested parties can apply via this link: https://springborochamberofcommerce.easyapply.co/