Jackson moving on
By Kevin Dye
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce has the tough job of replacing one of their valuable members as a key employee says goodbye after three-and-a-half years with the organization.
Marketing and Resource Development Director David Jackson is set to leave the chamber this week. He has accepted a position with a company in Columbus where he will help companies with their websites and Internet marketing.
“I will be working for RevLocal Internet Marketing in the Lewis Center area in Columbus,” Jackson said. “I will still be working with small businesses and my task will be to make sure they perform well with their Internet websites. Some are national companies, so I will be taking what I have learned here and use that for national companies.”
Jackson came to the the Madison County Chamber of Commerce in August of 2009 after graduating from Ohio University with a degree in business. Executive director Sean Hughes found Jackson through a mutual connection at the school.
“Sean and I had a mutual friend, Dave Urano, at Ohio University and Sean had worked with Dave when he was at O.U.,” Jackson said. “I was involved in a Learning Communities video project and built a relationship with Dave. Sean was looking for someone in marketing and tourism and I had that background.”
Jackson started as a marketing and resource manager and soon became the marketing and resource director. He says that opportunity has given him a wealth of experience while helping the chamber strive to help Madison County.
“I have gotten to experience so many things out of school because of my work with the chamber,” Jackson said. “I would not change it for the world. I have been able to learn a lot and it has been incredibly valuable.”
Jackson said he is most proud of his work for the chamber in the area of tourism for the county.
“One of the things I’m really proud of is our efforts in tourism,” Jackson said. “The tourism information display in the entry of our building was built two years ago. Our members pay a fee to be apart of that and it is an attractive and successful display for the chamber.
“It is our visitor center and through our efforts and involvement with activities, fairs and festivals we have been able to raise the lodging excise tax with year to year growth over the last three years. We have raised a total of $56,921 in those three years from what’s called a bed tax from hotel use and that money has to be spent on tourism marketing.”
Jackson said that the third quarter of the year has raised the most money from the lodging excise tax and that is contributed to the Farm Science Review and the London Ribs and Jazz Festival, both of which are held in that quarter and have significantly grown over that same three year period.
“The other event that I am proud of, was working with the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure in June, 2011,” Jackson said. “We co-hosted the event with The Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails and the three day event brought $300,000 of economic impact to the area.”
Helping small businesses get started and plan for success is another area that the Madison County Chamber of Commerce helps the county to grow and Jackson was also active in that area as well.
“We have helped over one hundred small businesses with counseling sessions,” Jackson said. “They don’t always lead to a new business, it’s a long process. We help them with their business plans, marketing plans and help them to determine a good location for their business. I like being on the front lines of helping small businesses in the community, like Marci Darlington and the Gateway Shoppes of West Jefferson. She does a great job with that business. It’s full and it’s prospering and I give her full credit.”
The business model of the Gateway Shoppes is one of an incubator model where new businesses could get their start under one roof without all of the overhead to get started. The shared resources and costs would allow small businesses to grow and become successful and gain experience before opening up their own independent location.
It is a model that the Madison County Chamber of Commerce worked hard to get established somewhere in Madison County to aid small businesses. This month a new shop opened in West Jefferson after getting their start in the Gateway Shoppes.
“That was the concept of the incubator model, to build new businesses and now it has with The Village Antique Treasures & Gifts,” Jackson said. “I really liked working with all of the businesses and business organizations in London, Plain City, Mt. Sterling and West Jefferson. That’s the great part for me is working with all of the communities and the local businesses. Each community has its own challenges.”
A new opportunity also brings the end of the current one and Jackson said he is grateful for his opportunity with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and is sad to say goodbye. While he is leaving the chamber, he and his wife Emilia will continue to call West Jefferson home. Emilia works in the village water department and is clerk of village council, while David is a member of the West Jefferson Community Association and plans to stay active in the community.
“I wish the chamber the best,” Jackson said. “They have treated me the best and with respect, but they are bigger than any one person. They will still be continuing the mission of serving Madison County. I will absolutely miss it here. It’s been a joy to come to work every day and no two days were the same. I will also miss Sean. He has been a great mentor and a friend and he taught me a lot. The board have great people and they and Sean will continue to do a good job.”