ShareThis Page
News

Grove City woman starts as chamber of commerce president

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2002

HARRISON: An energetic Grove City woman is the new president of the Allegheny Valley Chamber of Commerce, succeeding a president who had served almost 20 years.

Mary Bowlin, 42, finished her job Friday as executive director of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, moved to Freeport over the weekend, and started her new job Monday with a monthly board meeting around a table of nearly 30 members.

People around here might know Grove City as "the town next to the Outlets" — a regional destination of 140 stores better known as the Prime Outlets of Grove City. It's a regional shopping destination four miles from Grove City and close to Interstate 79.

Bowlin tried to use that mega-mall connection to the advantage of Grove City area businesses, coming up with a campaign, including brochures, that encouraged shoppers to spend more time in Grove City after their trip to the outlets.

Now she'll be working for the chamber that tries to grow business in the West Deer, Springdale, Harrison and Freeport areas. The Allegheny Valley board members who hired Bowlin said they like the fact that she's had a working relationship with a large retail mall. This may come in handy as the Frazer mall project moves forward. It is looked to as a regional attraction that could spur the Valley's economy.

On Bowlin's first day of work, she was quick to smile and enjoy a joke with others. She shared a story of how she grew up on a farm five miles from where the Prime Outlets eventually set up shop.

Grove City Area Chamber board members say Bowlin's openness to new ideas — and her energy to work them into reality — brought several improvements to the business community during her seven years as chamber executive director.

Among the new ideas Bowlin helped bring to Grove City:

  • An annual "Trade Show" for merchants and the public, which is going into its fourth year. This year, it attracted nearly 200 businesses and hundreds more residents who saw merchants' wares.

  • The first annual Heart Walk, which this year raised $11,400 for the American Heart Association.

  • An ice carving competition during Grove City's 1998 bicentennial celebration, which drew 35 artists and their chainsaws and big blocks of ice.

    "She worked 60, 80 hours a weeks sometimes," said Connie Blakley, Grove City's chamber board president . "She just did it. Sometimes stuff was just dropped in her lap, sometimes she just wanted to. If there were banners to be made up or posters to be done, she just came in and did them."

    The Trade Show increased the Grove City chamber's membership by 50 members, possibly because Bowlin invited non-chamber businesses to showcase their goods, too.

    That ability to increase membership caught the attention of board members who were searching to replace Laurie Singer, who resigned the presidency in September after nearly 20 years.

    The Allegheny Valley Chamber has about 400 members, most of them representing businesses that have between four and 10 employees. The Grove City chamber has about 270 members.

    Michele Pastrick, chairwoman of the Allegheny Valley chamber board, said Bowlin's ability to recruit volunteers helped make the Grove City Trade Show a success. Board members would like Bowlin to bring something similar to the Valley.

    The Allegheny Valley Showcase was similar to Grove City's Trade Show, but died out after five years in the '90s due to dwindling attendance.

    The Allegheny Valley chamber takes on community issues usually handled by other groups, a proactive quality that Bowlin likes. Members have testified before Allegheny County Council about the value of granting tax breaks to the Frazer mall project. Members, directed by a government affairs committee, have also flooded legislators with letters protesting steel dumping and other business issues that impact members.

  • TribLIVE commenting policy

    You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

    We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

    While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

    We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

    We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

    We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

    We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

    We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

    click me