COPLEY: Six inches of snow fell the night of the first meeting of the Copley Chamber of Commerce.
Scott Shields, who hatched the idea for a forum where local business people can exchange ideas, recalled that night in January 2012 with some satisfaction, noting that 45 people braved the snow to attend. In little more than a year since, the chamber has grown to 50 members comprised of professionals, service industries, the township and surrounding communities.
"With us up and running it's become a lot easier. Copley is a big area with lots of rooftops. The tough part was the first six months. It's nowhere near as hard now," said Shields, the chamber's first president.
While the idea for the organization was his, Shields credits a core of four volunteers with helping cobble the chamber of commerce together.
Member dues generate the nonprofit chamber's funding. Shields and a seven-member board of directors volunteered to serve for the first two years. An "election cycle will follow," he said.
Member meetings, hosted by Chambrel, are every other Thursday. They start early at 7:30 a.m. in Montrose, 100 Brookmont Road, a local retirement community.
"Spotlight businesses" host monthly evening meetings. Shields Blice & Co. CPA's Inc, at 3020 West Market St, hosted one in January.
The chamber also is looking at fundraising and cementing community ties. An annual fundraiser planning committee meeting is scheduled at 8 a.m. Thursday at Seward Wealth Management, 2747 Crawfis Blvd, No. 206 in Fairlawn. Shields said fundraising is a work in progress.
Two presentations at Chambrel are scheduled to focus on the community, one 7:30 p.m. April 11 by Copley Fire Chief Michael Benson and another 8 p.m. April 25 by Police Chief Michael Mier.
Shields said chamber members also want to get involved in this year's Copley Heritage Day celebration, usually a daylong August event. He estimated this year's celebration could consist of as many as 130 participant floats.
Copley schools are expected to be another focus. "We definitely know we want to help with scholarships for Copley students," Shields said. He is a Copley High School graduate and his wife, Diann, is a Copley Middle School teacher.
When they aren't working, Shields, 55, said he and his wife are avid scuba diving world travelers.
He said both are "technical wreck" divers, an avocation which has taken them to 23 different countries.