Highlights to Wooster Area Chamber Minutes

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  • Excerpts of Minutes from 90 Years of Looking to the Future: 1900-1990 [1]

1950 to 1959


  • Chamber members voted 320 YES, 8 NO to change the name of the Wooster Board of Trade to the Wooster Chamber of Commerce.
  • A committee composed of Chamber and service club members was appointed to raise money for the July 4th fireworks, "since the Mayor was unable to get clubs to contribute because slot machines are out."
  • A Truck Rerouting Committee was formed to seek an alternate route around Wooster for through truck traffic.
  • The Chamber entertained the new teachers on their first day in Wooster, showing them points of interest and taking them to dinner.
  • The downtown one-way traffic plan, tried during the Christmas season to speed up traffic and provide more parking, worked so well, this Chamber recommended plan was made permanent by city ordinance in February 1951.


  • Borg-Warner Corporation negotiated an option with the property owner for 30 acres of land west of Wooster.
  • The Courtesy Fund for parking meters began. Police put a nickel in the expired parking meter and an envelope on the car windshield asking return of a nickel to the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber started this fund with $10.00, and after $20.00 was deposited in meters, had $9.50 remaining.
  • Two hundred thousand seals, commemorating Wooster as "the home of the first Christmas tree," were given to members and the area public. A lighted Christmas tree was placed at the tomb of August Imgard, who erected this "first tree" in Wooster in 1847.
  • A list of assets indicated the Chamber still owned a total of 80 acres of land in various Wooster locations.


  • Mr. C. E. McCarley was selected as the next Executive Secretary, following the resignation of Mr. Barker.
  • The telephone company proposed the installation of a dial telephone system in Wooster, and a substantial rate increase.
  • Don Noble reported that a Safety Council would soon be formed for the industrial group. The first Safety Council Awards Banquet was held April 25, 1954.
  • An Annexation Committee was appointed to seek areas that should be annexed, and to encourage such annexation.


  • Formation of a Tree Commission was recommended to City Council by the Civic Projects Committee. The Chamber donated $500 toward the initial tree survey, and in 1955, when the Tree Commission was established to plan a shade tree planting and replacement program on city owned or controlled land, the Chamber appointed the first members to serve on this commission.


  • The success of a 6-week adult education course, sponsored by Borg-Warner Corporation and the Wooster Rubber Company in the fall of 1953, led to the Chamber's five-year involvement with Adult Education. The Chamber began by offering, at the College of Wooster, one 13-week course open to the general public. Within five years, this program had grown to 16 different courses with over 350 adults participating. In 1958, feeling this adult education program should become a permanent part of the community, the Chamber so notified the Board of Education, and relinquished sponsorship.
  • In May, following a short concert at the board meeting by a group of boys ages 16-25, Lee Parker announced the J.C.s would like to sponsor these musicians, and their immediate need was drums. After being given $200 by the Chamber to purchase a sufficient number of drums, the Junior Chamber Community Band was practicing weekly at the radio station.
  • An October luncheon welcomed executives of the Mardigian Corporation.


  • The formation of Wooster Parking, Inc. addressed the need for additional downtown parking lots. The majority of $37,000 worth of stock in that corporation was sold for the purchase of suitable downtown properties.
  • The Chamber gave support to the Arbor Day program which resulted in the planting of over 3,000 dogwood trees in the city, voted to furnish 1st and 2nd prizes for the Soap Box Derby, and decorated downtown for the Miss Ohio Contest.
  • The Solicitation Committee "kept strict guard on and screening of off-color, out-of-town promoters who strike at our community almost daily."


  • Following extensive remodeling of the old Straub's Meat Market on the northeast corner of Public Square, the Chamber invited guests to an open house celebration at their new office there in April 1957.


  • If enough effort was put forth, the board felt that a United Fund for Wooster could be established. The Chamber spearheaded the groundwork to make the United Fund a reality.
  • At the request of the Manufacturers Association, the Chamber circulated petitions to put the issue of "fast time" on the May ballot.
  • A committee was appointed to talk to the Mayor regarding the lack of street repair in the city.
  • The Board of Directors voted favoring a celebration in connection with the city's 150th anniversary. Executive Secretary McCarley was named Vice Chairman of the celebration planning committee.


  • Projects that needed to have the Chamber's support at once, and were given top priority in the Chamber of Commerce work program, included: parking, airport improvement, and the by-pass.
  • In July, an option was taken on the Shapiro lot downtown. This lot was to be cleared off immediately and put in shape for Dollar Days in Wooster, Ohio.
  • In December, when the owner of another downtown parking lot property refused an option extension, the Chamber borrowed the money to purchase this property, and held it until repayment could be made by the city.


  • After assessing the inadequacies of the present airport, Les Gigax, Chairman of the Airport Committee, recommended that a site be secured for a new airport. However, a closed door meeting with city officials produced the decision to, at this time, raise funds to make improvements at the present location.
  • Under a program being supervised by the State Department, the Chamber was asked by the Bolivian Chamber of Commerce to formally invite some industrialists from La Paz to visit Wooster. Following their visit in March 1960, a letter of appreciation was sent to all of Wooster "who so cordially received the group."
  • Livingston Furniture Co. was welcomed to Wooster with a reception given by the Chamber.

1960 to 1969


  • A house and lot, the first house south of the old YMCA Wooster, was purchased by the Chamber for the city's use.
  • Twenty-four acres of Chamber owned land was bought by the State Highway Department for expressway development, leaving at that site 10 acres facing Henry Street and 25 acres to the south bordering Canal Street.
  • Fundraising for the airport improvements was underway. Howard Freeman reported in April that $20,000 had been pledged to date. In May, the Chamber contributed $5,000 to this fund.
  • Twenty acres of land purchased by the Chamber in 1960 from the Ohio Metalsmiths Corporation on S.R. 30 was bought by Astro Fab in 1962 as the site for their new plant.


  • President Gigax reviewed projects completed by the Chamber such as the bond issue for the new municipal building, the bond issue for the by-pass, and additional parking lots.
  • Several special committees were formed. One studied the method in which a Master Plan should be made for the City of Wooster, another reviewed the charter form of government and the city manager form of government in preparation for recommendations.
  • Petitions circulated by the Chamber, following groundwork by the Annexation Committee, placed on the ballot the issue of the annexation of 800 acres adjacent to the city on the east. This annexation was approved by the voters in November.


  • Installing parking meters on the new lots downtown was suggested since the lots were being misused by employees.
  • Executive Vice President McCarley resigned effective April 30. A breakfast for the membership welcomed Fred Neuenschwander to this position in June.
  • Harold Freedlander chaired a committee to revise the Chamber's dues structure. His committee rectified former inequities and established $50.00 as the dues minimum.
  • The Chamber went on record as opposing "certain business interests who were attempting to weaken the Sunday closing law by amending the state constitution in such a manner as to allow more stores to open on Sunday."
  • Downtown redevelopment, parking, traffic flow, and beautification were discussed by the Chamber, City Administration, and City Council so that an area plan would be in place when US 30 and US 250 were re-routed onto the by-pass. A letter from Mayor Lestor got the ball rolling as a Chamber committee met with city officials to plan strategy for the development opportunities offered by Urban Renewal.


  • Fred Neuenschwander's letter of resignation dated May 1, 1963, led to the search for a new Executive Vice President. Patrick J. Fauciglia was selected in June.
  • Amos Buchman began his duties as the first chairman of the Wayne County Community Improvement Corporation, a position he held for 25 years. This corporation was established to stimulate industrial development and approve the issuance of industrial revenue bonds.
  • The Chamber organized a gala ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Wooster expressway, and planned a luncheon to welcome Pentagon Plastics.
  • Daily inquiries were now being received as the Chamber began serving as the area's Better Business Bureau.


  • The first Civic Improvement Awards were presented to recipients during the March annual meeting. The Civic Improvement Committee was formed to stimulate physical improvement and encourage the design and construction of more attractive buildings.
  • A telephone warning system was established by the Retail Division enabling them to quickly alert fellow members about shoplifters and bad checks.
  • In October, the manager of the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce spoke to interested Wooster citizens discussing the procedures his community followed in constructing a downtown mall.
  • No action was taken on the recommendation to form a separate Downtown Merchants Association for the purpose of promoting downtown which would allow outlying merchants to become members of the Retail Division and yet remain apart from the merchants downtown.
  • Receiving the Chamber's wholehearted support was a request from four Wooster High School seniors to hold a Shakespearean Festival downtown on November 7, to celebrate Shakespeare's 400th birthday.


  • Board President Ralph Jones reviewed the year's top two priorities: industrial development and increased Chamber membership.
  • Serious ramifications facing the city due to a lack of income led to the formation of a special committee to study this problem. The committee's findings resulted in the adoption of a Chamber resolution that a city income tax was essential. Voter approval of this issue was due in large measure to the Chamber's efforts.
  • Bill McNutt, Executive Director of the Farm Bureau Federation, requested the Chamber's cooperation in arranging a business-farm day.
  • A Wayne County advisory board began meeting to discuss the development of a new county airport.
  • In October, T. R. Lugenbeal was selected as the new Executive Vice President following the September resignation of Pat Fauciglia.


  • Chamber support was given to the Wayne County Schools Career Center|Wayne County Vocational School]] proposal and College-Community Day.
  • The board purchased the 45-acre parcel of land on Old Mansfield Road, offered by Frito-Lay, and accepted a 60-day option for 30 of those acres from Premier Corporation to be used as a future site for Akron Brass Company.
  • The sum of $1,700 was raised by the Chamber to send a Wooster policeman to school for training and handling police dogs.


  • A major role was played by the Chamber in securing the site for the new airport. The old airport property was mortgaged and the Chamber's savings accounts used as collateral to borrow the final amount needed to purchase the land.
  • Assistance was given to Bell & Howell as plans went forward for their new Wooster plant.
  • Displacement of families due to urban renewal led to the Chamber's offer to serve as sponsor in the formation of a corporation to guide the development of necessary housing.
  • More than 1800 people attended the Chamber-sponsored open house for the new post office.


  • Plans were being formulated to establish the old airport property as an industrial park site. Discussions entailed rezoning and the extension of water and sewer lines.
  • Construction of the new Akron Brass Company plant began.
  • The Chamber offices were redecorated.
  • Unfortunately, the Chamber was not in a position to grant the request from a local author to underwrite the publication costs of his book entitled "A Touch of Italy in Wooster."


  • Bell & Howell was welcomed to the community, and as a new Chamber member.
  • The old airport property was sold.
  • Downtown parking concerns were addressed in several ways. A proposal to build a parking deck in the urban renewal area was studied. The Chamber recommended that city council explore the establishment of a parking commission to assist with parking concerns, and funds were loaned to Wooster Parking, Inc. for the purchase of employee parking lots on S. Buckeye Street.
  • The police dog program financed by the Chamber was discontinued due to the death of Sgt. Knisely in the July flood.

1970 to 1979


  • Members were appointed to five standing committees: Executive, Finance & Budget, Ambassador & Public Relations, Keep Pace with Tomorrow, and Industrial. Other committees were appointed as needed.
  • The old airport was closed and the land sold to a group of investors. Mr. Perrone estimated it would take 10 years to fully develop the area as an industrial park.
  • Costs relating to the dedication ceremony at the new airport were underwritten by the Wayne County Community Improvement Corporation.
  • The city reviewed and revamped sections of the zoning ordinance at the request of a Chamber committee.
  • Merchants discussed the advisability of a change in retail store hours.


  • Recruitment of new industry was hindered by the natural gas shortage.
  • Walter Jones Construction, Incorporated offered to buy the 24-acre parcel south of the Route 30 by-pass. The board accepted his offer.
  • Members of the winning College of Wooster basketball team and their coaches were feted at the February board meeting. Ernie Infield was thanked for the liaison he was providing between college and community.
  • Councilman Stype reported that 31 people had filed for the Charter Commission.
  • Ed Myers recommended organizing two retail divisions, one to serve downtown, the other to serve uptown.
  • Mr. Sklorman commended the Chamber for its role in making the new bus station possible.


  • The board reviewed the City Charter which would take effect January 1, 1973.
  • The sum of $5,000 was earmarked for industrial development.
  • Farmaster, Inc., Wooster's newest industry, was welcomed.
  • Negotiations proceeded with Mr. Hock of Wooster Sportswear who was interested in constructing a new plant on Old Airport Road.
  • Mayor Stype spoke on the downtown mall proposal, outlined the problems, and repeated his assertion that it was mandatory to preserve the core of the city.


  • A huge crowd attended the grand opening of the new Grant Store in Portage Plaza.
  • Ray Dix was elected to the board of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
  • President Nixon's wage price freeze applied to Chamber dues, allowing no dues increase after June 8.
  • The Retail Division hired Mr. Alexander, a New York planning consultant, to give advice on the proposed downtown mall. He determined, during his initial visit, that Wooster had all of the elements of a good downtown business area, but felt Wooster's 9-year-old Master Plan was out of date, did not really take the downtown into consideration, and recommended a 4-month in-depth study of the downtown business district.
  • Board approval was given to the suggestion by downtown business people that a downtown association be formed within the Retail Division.
  • The proposed parking token system would encounter further delay since it was discovered that the tokens fit car washes, laundromats, and telephones.


  • Eighty-five people listened as the Lawrence Alexander Company presented their plan for downtown rejuvenation, more popularly known as the mini-mall plan.
  • City Council was exploring the feasibility of building a parking garage on S. Buckeye Street including commercial space at street level.
  • The board endorsed the Walnut Street location for the new justice center.
  • The grand opening of Hawkins Cafeteria caused Earl Hawkins's absence from the May board meeting.
  • Mayor Stype's report regarding Wooster's All-American City nomination prompted a motion by the board to send Russ Lugenbeal to San Diego to assist in the effort to win this award.


  • Lapel badges, decals, bumper stickers, and window banners were designed to be sold by the Retail Division during the week-long schedule of activities celebrating Wooster's selection as All-America City.
  • Responding to resident complaints about door-to-door salespeople, the Chamber recommended city council consider a Green River ordinance.
  • Plans were underway for a new community booklet.


  • Bumper stickers saying "Happy Birthday America, Love, Wooster, Ohio" appeared on area cars.
  • Activities included the Fourth of July celebration, the manufacturers Bicentennial exhibit at the fairgrounds, and a Chamber booth at the Wayne County Fair.
  • Downtown revitalization plans covering an 8-block area were presented at a special meeting in May.
  • In November, the City Planning Department presented a downtown improvement and beautification plan.


  • The following title changes were approved: from President to Chairman of the Board, and from Executive Vice President to President.
  • The Chamber strongly opposed the city's flood way zoning ordinance and, additionally, requested repeal of the 1974 flood plain zoning ordinance, citing that this legislation could cause the loss of vital industrial and commercial investments. The city ordinances were amended.
  • The Chamber also opposed the recently enacted Wooster sign ordinance.
  • Through the efforts of Les Gigax and the Chamber, LuK Incorporated was located on Old Airport Road. Funds were raised for site improvement.


  • A 78-year precedent was broken with the election of the first women ever to serve on the Chamber's Board of Directors. Beginning their terms in January were Sherry Weyer of Sherry's Card Shop and Alice Horn of Horn Convalescent and Nursing Home.
  • A steering committee was appointed to study the creation of a Wayne County Community Foundation. Following its establishment, the foundation was housed in the Chamber office until it could become self-sustaining.
  • The Chamber urged the county commissioners to allocate more funding for the airport, and supported the establishment of an Ohio Agricultural Museum.


  • A financing package, through the Wayne County Community Improvement Corporation, was completed to help Stitz, Inc., acquire the property of Astro Metallurgical Inc, guaranteeing that this company would remain in Wooster, preserving over 250 jobs.
  • Chairman Wepler informed the board that a new group had been formed to improve downtown both physically and operationally. The threat of a mall was being used as the motivational force to energize and impel those with investments downtown to review the situation and to improve the downtown to the extent that a mall would not seriously impinge upon or injure the economics of the downtown.
  • Four new downtown businesses opened: Gringos, Francavilla's Restaurant, Newberrys, and the Twin Cinema.
  • The Chamber offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for downtown vandalism.
  • The Downtown Merchants Association discussed opening on Sundays during the Christmas season.
  • Following a slide presentation "A Look at Wooster" by the Wooster Community Design Commission, Chairman Wepler summed up stating we had an obligation to accentuate the positive by preserving those things which were good. Little agreement was reached on "what is beautiful."

1980 to 1989


  • Concerns surrounding a proposed mall to be built on the outskirts of the city led to an extensive evaluation of four major areas of impact the Mohican Mall might have: environmental, legal, economic, and population growth. Because the Chamber's purpose clearly states it is to support economic growth in the entire city, the Chamber took no position on this issue.
  • The Board of Directors communicated to the Ohio Assistant Chief of the Division of Oil & Gas, their concern on the effect to Wooster's water supply of the oil and gas wells being drilled in the Killbuck Valley.
  • The many Amish families who shop in Wooster enjoyed the convenience provided by a small barn and parking area for their horses and buggies built for them one block south of the square.
  • Expansion assistance was given to Astro-Fab, Wayne Door, and United Titanium.
  • American Augers constructed a new plant on S. R. 3.
  • The Chamber recommended changes in the city's zoning code making it easier to bring new businesses to Wooster.
  • A $1,000 donation to the Shade Tree Commission continued the Chamber's ongoing support of this project.


  • Technology Unlimited was assisted by the Chamber with their plans to locate in Wooster.
  • Following completion of 16 years as Chamber president, Russ Lugenbeal announced his retirement.
  • In November, Charles E. Manges, CCE, was hired as President by the Board of Directors, bringing 15 years of chamber experience to his new position.
  • In preparation for 1982, the Directors approved the creation of 11 new committees: Ambassador, Legislative Affairs, Community Relations, Enrichment, Education, Communications, Small Business, Commercial & Retail Development, Retention & Expansion, Economic Expansion, and Economic Development.


  • The scope of activities now being initiated by the Chamber necessitated the change in name from the Wooster Chamber of Commerce to the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce to better identify the increased involvement and range of projects being undertaken. Inquiries, averaging 75-100 per year, from potential new businesses and industries expressing interest in the Wooster area required extensive, up-to-date statistical information. Receipt of a P.I.C. grant enabled the Chamber to produce a 125-page economic study of Wooster and Wayne County to supply this vital information.
  • Chamber members actively assisted with plans for celebrating the city's 175th anniversary, and OARDC's 100th anniversary.
  • A tradition of 46 years was altered when the Chamber encouraged the city's retail and commercial businesses to stay open on Wednesday afternoon.


  • Realizing the potential economic impact of the tourism industry, the Chamber played a major role in the creation of the Wayne County Visitor & Convention Bureau to provide ongoing promotion of Wayne County as a tourist destination.
  • The giant Christmas tree atop Madison Hill was lit for the first time. Now an annual event, as the community gathers on the square to sing Christmas carols and officially open the Christmas season, this celebration of August Imgard's first Wooster tree was made possible by a special Chamber committee whose original members included Jody Tyler{{Surname|, Dr. Burney {{Surname|Huff, and Al Burger.
  • Economically, the Chamber continued to work with Premier Corp. to gain a right of way, now known as Venture Blvd., which opened the way to a new industrial park.
  • A distinctive new logo was designed for the Chamber.
  • Pedestrians no longer "scrambled" in all directions at once across the square, after the Chamber recommended the elimination of this hazardous situation downtown.


  • Ted Evan's melodious voice, followed by, the time is ---, the current temperature is ---, has been heard over 10 million times by area residents since the Chamber began providing the community with the time and temperature service in 1984.
  • Responding to requests for additional Chamber membership activities led to sponsorship of the first Chamber Golf Outing.
  • Public relations activity accelerated with the publication of a city/county map. To date, over 50,000 copies have been distributed.
  • Late in 1984, the Chamber sponsored a 5 1/2 hour video conference on downtown revitalization which resulted in the Chamber's Directors naming a Downtown Revitalization Committee to address downtown concerns. These committee members ultimately became the first board members of what is now known as Main Street Wooster Inc.
  • At the suggestion of a local manufacturer, I Waski Kogyo, Inc., of Nara, Japan, was presented an honorary membership in the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce, a membership they display with pride.


  • After 29 years on the square, growing pains prompted the Chamber's move to larger offices in the Central Trust Bank building. These expanded facilities provided space for the addition of new Chamber services. One important new service was the Small Business Resource Center which provides the wide array of information requested by beginning and existing small businesses in our community.
  • The board approved the creation of a Chamber Foundation to accept funds to be used for economic development and educational programs promoting the free enterprise system.
  • The College Hills and Cleveland Road Business Associations were created to meet the needs of business development and expansion in those locations.
  • It rained a little on the first Chamber-sponsored Oktoberfest celebrated in downtown Wooster.


  • To better meet the needs of the membership and serve the area, the Chamber was reorganized into 4 divisions with directors responsible for the following: Industrial/Commercial, Membership Affairs, Community Affairs, and Marketing.
  • To better reflect the Chamber's purpose and goals, the Board of Directors adopted the following mission statement: "To effectively maintain and increase the economic base of the Wooster area as measured by employment and per capita income, while improving the quality of life of our residents."
  • With assistance from the Chamber, the Seaman Corporation chose Wooster's new industrial park area on Venture Blvd. for its new plant instead of moving to Tennessee.
  • The Chamber's Economic Expansion Committee was instrumental in getting 13 acres on Portage Road rezoned commercial.
  • Planning Assistance was given to the city when Wooster was selected as the state capital for a day.
  • It rained a lot on the 2nd annual Oktoberfest. A thunderstorm accompanied the Christmas Parade.


  • At a special meeting, the Chamber and its Manufacturers Association hosted guest speaker, J. Peter Grace.
  • A cooperative effort among the Chamber, City Administration, and Clear Picture, Inc. brought "TV 5's Morning Exchange Live at OARDC'S Fisher Auditorium" to Wooster.
  • Work began toward the publication of a Wooster Community Booklet, the first in 12 years. This booklet was completed in 1989.
  • A fifth division, Administration/Financial, was added to the plan of action during the Directors fall retreat.
  • Economically, the Chamber began working with Scot Industries of Lone Star, Texas, as they considered the Wooster area for a new plant location. Final approval of plans in May 1989 led to the beginning of construction on a 105,000 sq.ft. building for their new facility.
  • The Chamber also assisted with TRING's expansion, and the location of a Drug Mart in Wooster.


  • In January, it was noted that Chamber membership had increased 380% in the past 6 years.
  • The Chamber played major roles in having the city approved as an enterprise zone, and in supporting the annexation of 800 acres in the Madisonburg area.
  • Continually searching for ways to better serve the membership and community, the Chamber organized a SCORE chapter, providing space for this service in the Chamber office. During its first year, 72 businesses and individuals were assisted by SCORE.
  • Through the efforts of the Communications Committee, a 15-minute videotape visually promoting the Wooster area and titled "A City of Magnificent Constrasts" was completed.
  • Legislative issues at all levels of government continued to be monitored, with Chamber endorsement given to those benefitting its members and the Wooster area.


  • To serve the needs of all the Chamber's retail and service members, a 6th division, Retail/Service was added to the Plan of Action.
  • The Small Business Committee named its first small business person of the year, honoring Faline Fry Jones.
  • The Cleveland Road Business Association actively encouraged ODOT to complete the Dix Highway interchange at Cleveland Road.
  • The Economic Expansion Committee emphasized the need for industrially zoned land to be addressed in the city's 10-year comprehensive plan. This committee also played a major role in getting 72 acres in the Long Road/Geyers Chapel Road area annexed and zoned M2.
  • Prentke Romich was assisted by the Chamber with their expansion plans.
  • The Board of Directors went on record opposing the granting of regulatory powers to the Wooster Design Commission, citing the extra layer of bureaucracy as being detrimental to future downtown development.
  • The sun beamed brightly on Oktoberfest number five.
  1. 90 Years of Looking to the Future: 1900-1990. by Elaine Manges. Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce. 1990.