LANCASTER — Travis Markwood is certainly well known in the community.
As the Lancaster-Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce president, he deals with about 500 businesses on the chamber roster and attends numerous events like ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new businesses.
"We always love ribbon cuttings because that means there's a new business opening or one of our existing members has expanded their business or added a service or product," Markwood said. "We're happy to help celebrate that."
Markwood has held his current position for almost 14 years now.
"At the time I was looking for a career change," he said when hired. "I was working in the corporate world in Columbus and I wanted to work closer to home and in my hometown. I wanted to work locally. That's what prompted me to search for opportunities and this happened to be an opportunity at the time."
As president, Markwood is responsible for the organization's general operation and overseeing its employees. He is also responsible for the chamber's budget and meeting the needs of its members. Markwood reports to a 20-member board of directors and a five-member executive committee.
In general terms, Markwood said any chamber of commerce exists to advocate for businesses.
"That means a lot of different things," he said. "We're here to support the local business community. We can support local businesses by helping them market their products or services. It can be supporting local businesses through legislative advocacy. Sometimes that even means we're at the statehouse testifying on behalf of a certain issue. We've done that before for our members."
The chamber can also work with economic development officials to recruit new businesses to the area.
"The services that the chamber provides are very broad throughout the community," Markwood said. "We get to be involved in the community in a lot of different ways."
While the chamber office is downtown, its members are scattered throughout Fairfield County. Some members are even outside of the county. Those members may be headquartered elsewhere but offer services or products locally.
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One challenge facing Markwood and others in the business community has been the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"One of the things chamber members really enjoy is networking and making connections by meeting other chamber members," he said. "That's been a challenge because we just haven't been able to hold the events like we typically have."
Markwood said it took a week or two to figure out what to do next when the pandemic first hit. But his employees, who were working from home, called chamber members each day to help them navigate the pandemic.
"Our members really appreciated that," he said. "It gave us a sense of purpose and the ability to help individual members. We continued to disseminate information as it came to us like federal programs that were going to assist businesses and how to navigate some of those grant programs."
Markwood said he's happy that businesses supported each other during the pandemic.
"But, yeah, it's been a challenge," he said. "Every time we think we're on some sense of return to what things used to be like we're reminded that we may never totally go back to where we were before. A lot of things have changed. Some good things have happened out of it as well."
Away from work, Markwood and his wife follow the activities of their two high-school-aged children like sports and other extra-curricular activities.
He also enjoys outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.
Markwood is also a board member of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio.
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Travis Markwood is a well-known face in the local community