Dayton chamber continues to focus on business issues for its members. 

Mike Boyer

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is all about the business of doing business in the Miami Valley.

The chamber, which in February marks its 111th anniversary, was launched by NCR founder John H. Patterson and some associates to bring a greater focus on business issues in the Dayton area. The organization hasn’t strayed from that mission, says Phil Parker, president and CEO.

“We focus on business advocacy,” he says. “We are always in the forefront talking about how issues affect the business community. For example, how fixing a tax situation will make business better. Or just the opposite. We might see an onerous regulation or legislation that hampers the business community.”

With just under 2,500 members, the Dayton chamber is among the 25 largest chambers in the nation and its reach extends over nine counties from Shelby in the north to Butler and Warren counties in the south.

And the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce isn’t just focused on urban businesses.

“There’s lot of growth between Dayton and Cincinnati and lot of rural areas are seeing some dynamic growth. We’re trying to concentrate on that. Businesses in those areas need services, too,” Parker says.

The chamber offers a wide array of discounts for its members on products and services ranging from gas cards and office products to health insurance and workers’ comp programs as well as business networking opportunities.

“We know our members want to do business with other businesses in the community,” Parker says. “We’re really good about connecting people and companies together to encourage each other to do business.”

In addition, Parker says the chamber is focused on one of the biggest issues facing large and small businesses alike: recruitment and retention of good workers.

“It’s not only good for the business community but the community as well,” he says. “We’re trying to be an advocate for what we call alignment. What are employer job needs and how do we align that with the talent we have or do we do something different?”

Last fall the chamber launched, an online tool aimed at aligning the labor needs of the business community with the skills of employable workers.

Created with a foundation grant, the site provides information on industry segments expected to see job growth, expected job openings and wages and a database of training resources.

The chamber also has a focus on attracting and retaining millennials to the community.

“We have a professional group called Generation Dayton that focuses on recruiting, retaining that younger leader in the community.”

For more than 40 years the chamber also has operated Leadership Dayton, a yearlong leadership development program for selected executives that culminates in a community service project. The chamber’s Minority Business Partnership is an economic development effort to strengthen business ties with local minority suppliers.

Transportation is another important chamber focus, Parker says.

The chamber was one of the key advocates for the completed overhaul of Interstate 75 through downtown and it has been advocating improvements to U.S. 35, a major east-west artery into Dayton.

The chamber is also the official marketing partner of the Dayton International Airport and focuses not only on its facilities but attracting new carriers to improve service.