The Troy Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to remain relevant. And with the number of businesses that have joined as members increasing to 442, an 11% increase since 2014, that strategy appears to be working.

“We are on a high right now,” says chamber Executive Director Kathi Roetter. “We had 22 ribbon cuttings for new businesses openings with our Ambassador Team.”

But the chamber isn’t resting on its laurels. That’s because the chamber is working to make sure that the recent success continues. “Our focus in 2020 will be the numbers,” says Roetter. “We are conducting a survey to identify what services they need from us. We want to remain relevant.”

One of those ways to remain relevant includes the implementation of an annual speakers series. “An annual speakers series is as a new way to connect with the community,” she says. “We’re going to bring in top-notch, nationally known people with a motivational message,” says Roetter.

The series starts off with a bang. “Our first guest will be Urban Meyer on Oct. 15 at Hobart Arena,” she says. Retired Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Meyer is now a highly sought after speaker who travels the country inspiring audiences with his many stories of winning seasons achieved by building teams.

His book, Above the Line, contains such wisdom as: “I’ve come to learn that leadership is not automatically granted to you because of your position or your salary or the size of your office.”

Although the speakers series is a new part of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, one of its longest and most successful events continues to evolve. The Troy Strawberry Festival, now in its 44th year, has grown to attract between 150,000 and 175,000 visitors each year.

“Finding volunteers to help with this wonderful event is harder to do,” Roetter says. “One way we are solving this is to partner our nonprofits with commercial vendors. This is a growth opportunity.”

Since the beginning in 1977 the Troy Strawberry Festival has been a fundraising opportunity for the nonprofits and civic groups serving Miami County. In carrying on with that tradition, food vendors must be a nonprofit serving Miami County or a commercial vendor may partner with a nonprofit serving Miami County. Commercial vendors are asked to provide 50% of net profits with their respective organization.

The theme of the 2020 festival, to be conducted June 6-7, is Peace, Love and Berries, a ’60s and ’70s tribute. There will be nonstop entertainment on three stages. “We hope to see lots of tie-dye,” she laughs.

“We’re also bringing back the car show,” she says. The return of the car show is in response to people telling the event organizers that it is something they have missed, says Roetter.

The Troy Chamber of Commerce rarely misses an opportunity to honor successful business members with its annual Business of the Year awards, she says. Each year the chamber recognizes a small, medium and a large business.

Recently the Troy Chamber of Commerce honored El Sombrero restaurant for its 25 years of providing free Thanksgiving dinners to the community; Culver’s restaurant for hosting story hour at the two local libraries; and ConAgra for its continued investment in Troy’s nonprofits as it goes through its facilities expansion.

Businesses are nominated for a contribution to the overall good of the community through employment, capital investment, philanthropy/community involvement, aesthetic improvement, delivery of unique or specialized products or services, or recognition through significant business achievement.

For purposes of the award the number of employees divides the categories.

• Large Business of the Year nominees must have 75 or more full-time employees.

• Medium Business of the Year nominees must have 25-75 full-time employees.

• Small Business of the Year nominees must have fewer than 25 employees or full-time equivalents.

“These businesses are examples of those who use best practices,” says Roetter. “They are assets both as employers and as good corporate citizens. The quality of our lives here is directly impacted by their engagement with the community.”

Troy is the county seat of Miami County. Residents named the town after the ancient city of Troy. Established in 1808 Troy became the Miami County seat that same year, replacing Staunton. Troy grew quickly, primarily due to its location on the Great Miami River, on the Miami and Erie Canal and also on several important turnpikes.

In 1840, Troy’s population was 1,351 people. The town’s population nearly doubled over the next six years, as more and more people moved to the region to take advantage of its transportation infrastructure. In 1846, the town contained six churches, two newspaper offices, a branch of Ohio’s state bank, one private academy, a Masonic hall, at least six warehouses, three flour mills, five sawmills, one iron foundry, one machine shop, one shingle factory and one plow factory.

Over the next several decades Troy continued to grow, having a population of 3,803 people in 1880 and 4,590 inhabitants by 1890. The town remained a center of agricultural trade with farmers utilizing the Miami and Erie Canal and railroads to ship their crops to market.

In 1886, numerous manufacturing businesses existed in the town, with the Troy Buggy Works being the community’s largest employer with 146 workers. That same year four newspaper offices, 10 churches and two banks serviced the community.

During the 20th century Troy and its residents continued to prosper. With a population of 25,865 people Troy was Miami County’s largest community in 2000. Many residents find employment in the nearby cities of Dayton and Springfield, including at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Numerous manufacturing businesses operate in Troy and in surrounding communities.