STEUBENVILLE - The duties of the new president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce were discussed during Friday's luncheon meeting of the Steubenville Rotary Club at the YWCA on North Fourth Street.
Rich DeLuca, who assumed the chamber presidency Jan. 1 after former President Sue Hershey retired, was introduced as having more than 35 years of business experience in the Ohio Valley. DeLuca began by saying he'd "Been around for awhile. You're getting old goods in a brand new wrapper."
DeLuca said there were several paths the chamber could take under his leadership, but he believed the chamber had to follow the course of business in the county rather than the other way around.
CHAMBER TALK — Rich DeLuca, president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, was the guest speaker for the Steubenville Rotary Club’s
Friday luncheon meeting at the Steubenville YWCA. -- Mark Miller
"I don't believe there is any system in the world that is flawless," he said, adding he would work to improve cooperation and lines of communication among existing local businesses advocacy organizations. "I believe a lot of good has been done. But make no mistake - I'm going to do the job with my approach."
DeLuca said he believed in business "evolution," and that the chamber should follow whatever trends that develop giving area businesses a leg up.
"(We must continue) the never-ending challenge to re-invent Jefferson County," he said.
DeLuca said his outlook comes from experience, in that "business in Jefferson County isn't the same as it was 10 years ago, and it won't be the same way it is 10 years from now."
DeLuca said growing up he was discouraged from going to college and encouraged to pick a trade, as at the time the local mills were booming, coal mining was under way and heavy industry held the promise of a good job. He said the decline in those industries "was in no way a change," adding the business landscape was ever-changing. He added he had "total respect" for those industries, but they probably weren't coming back to the area the way they had been.
"I'm going to step outside the box any way I can," DeLuca said of furthering business interests in the county, and that included partnering with other agencies and concerns. "We need to have strong support for the kind of businesses we have."
He added the county had 17 chamber of commerces for different municipalities, and he was hoping for more cooperation among agencies and to be able to "provide more valuable services to customers. We're going to re-invent the economy with what it is to be."
DeLuca also said there were lessons to be learned from the area's economic past, but there was always reason to be optimistic about tommorow's business climate. He added negative talk about Jefferson County's business climate "just bores and aggravates me. I took this job to create services."
DeLuca said the chamber needed to take a more comprehensive approach and become more regionalized.
"That's where I'll plant my flag," he said.