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Chamber’s Daugherty resigns

By Thomas Gnau, Journal Business Writer, E-mail:

It was businesslike to the end, as Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dan Sack recalled Friday: Chamber President David Daugherty offered his resignation without rancor or emotion, Sack said.

“It was very professional,” Sack said. “He said, ‘This is in the best interest of the chamber.’ ”

“He took it very well,” Sack added. “It was a mutual decision.”

With that, the chamber moved at least one step in what Sack called a “new” direction. He has an interim chamber director in mind, but he said he would not identify that person until next week.

“We just want to become a vibrant new chamber,” Sack said.

Two weeks ago, AK Steel Corp., the chamber’s largest member, resigned from the organization on the same day well known Cincinnati class-action litigation attorney Stan Chesley was the invited speaker at a chamber luncheon. Chesley has litigated against AK.

In the following days, Sack announced the formation of a committee of past chamber chairmen brought together to critically examine any facet of chamber operations, including leadership.

It was on the advice of that committee’s members that Sack called a meeting of the chamber’s executive committee Thursday afternoon. Although Sack declined to say much about what happened in the meeting, the problem of AK’s exit and what to do about it were discussed.

Said Sack, “We discussed a lot of things.” Including, he said, a “course correction.”

It was after that meeting that Daugherty offered his resignation, Sack said.

Sack did not know if Daugherty has another position elsewhere awaiting him or if he planned to stay in Middletown. He said a financial severance was being arranged with legal counsel, but he declined to elaborate. Daugherty did not have an attorney with him at Thursday’s meeting, Sack said.

“If it’s all due to the AK situation, I’m very disappointed,” said Tom Blake, an “ex-officio” chamber board member and chairman of Middletown Economic Development Corp.

Blake said he spoke with Daugherty on the phone shortly after AK left the organization. Blake said he heard no hint then that Daugherty was considering leaving.

“I am surprised that he resigned,” Blake said. “I would have to talk to him to understand his reason and rationale on that.”

Added Blake, “It all seems sort of strange.”

When Daugherty, then 47, took the chamber’s helm in August 1996, the body was entering its second year as the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber and had 480 members. He had been senior vice president of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce before taking the top job here.

Today, the chamber has about 580 members, businesses and organizations in Middletown, Monroe and Trenton. It boasts several popular programs, including Women In Networking and a “business after hours” gathering hosted by a different chamber member each month.

On Daugherty’s watch, a chamber political action committee was formed and plans to bring a hot air balloon event back to Middletown were finalized. (The event will be held Aug. 1-3.) Chamber leaders also celebrated moving to a refurbished downtown office at 1500 Central Ave.

“It has grown dramatically,” Sack said.

As of late Friday, Sack remained chairman and AK still was not a member.

AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy early Friday afternoon said he was not aware of Daugherty’s resignation — nor would he give further comment on the resignation or whether AK might consider re-joining the chamber.

“To reiterate, the chamber was not meeting our needs,” McCoy said. “Going forward, we won’t speculate, but if we believe the chamber reaches a point where it meets our needs, we’ll re-examine the issue of possibly re-joining the chamber.

“I’ve told other (chamber) board members, ‘We’ll look at what they’re doing in the future.’ But there’s not going to be any more speculation beyond that,” he added.

Daugherty could not be reached for comment Friday.

Journal City Editor Bob Irvin contributed to this report.

Published 04.19.03



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