Susan Munroe
Susan Munroe
VAN WERT – The Chamber of Commerce recently announced that current CEO and President Susan Munroe will head to a new career path involving renewable energy. Her last day at the Chamber is set for July 17.

In September of 2011, Munroe was hired for the position after being encouraged by friends and family to apply. Soon after, the Chamber made a move from Fox Road to downtown in 2012.

“We found ourselves in a position where we needed to relocate, and interest rates were ridiculously low,” said Munroe. “We felt like we wanted to return downtown.”

The move downtown allowed for the Chamber to be more closely located to Economic Development, Main Street Van Wert, The Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and The Van Wert County Foundation, which all play a role in the growth of Van Wert.

Almost six years later, the Chamber has been able to aggressively pay down the mortgage and will soon pay off the building.

When Munroe took the position, membership was down, hovering in the mid 100s.

“The Chamber had lost some members; membership was dramatically down,” said Munroe. “There had been some transition, but there was a good foundation for me to build on, it just needed some stability, some new, fresh ideas, new programming, and just seeing things with a fresh set of eyes.”

Since then, Munroe has been able to increase membership to around 330 members.

Munroe also helped to usher in leads groups such as the Chamber Coffees which allow Chamber members to gather once a quarter to network and learn. The program includes a light breakfast, discussion of Chamber perks and a “Learn to Earn” program, which usually always gives Chamber members ideas that will help their business grow.

Leadercast, just finishing up its fifth year, has been one of Munroe’s favorite projects to bring to Van Wert.

“Leadership, workforce development, and networking are some of the reasons why Chamber members join,” said Munroe, who said she has enjoyed learning why each member joins.

Munroe also touted Chamber Energy Solutions as a successful accomplishment that has helped save Chamber members money on their energy bills.

During her time with the Chamber, Munroe has learned much about the economic impact of renewables.

In her new position with Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, she will be combining her passion for building communities with her passion for the economic benefits of renewable energy.

At the non-profit organization, Munroe will be responsible for traveling to communities across the nation like Van Wert to give support to Chamber and Economic Development leaders and to help them navigate the opportunities for clean energy development in their areas.

“We help Chambers advocate for clean energy in their areas,” said Munroe. “What I’ll be doing specifically is, I’ll be consulting and supporting Chamber and Economic Development directors with solar or wind in their communities.”

“The opposition to clean energy development can be fierce, and it can be loud, and it can spook even the strongest leader to waver or to become neutral,” Munroe continued. “It takes a certain amount of fortitude to remain focused and not waver off of your mission.”

Munroe said the mission statements of Chambers and Economic Development organizations is clear in that their goal is to continually grow their community.

While Munroe will be all over the country, she plans to remain in the Van Wert community as a resident.

Currently, the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce board is taking resumes from those interested in the Chamber CEO position. Resumes must be turned in by July 20.

“It’s been a great seven years,” said Munroe. “I’ve enjoyed all of it. I’ve enjoyed the ribbon cuttings, listening to people’s crazy, different ideas. I’ve enjoyed working with our largest and smallest employers and entrepreneurs. Working with the small business owners has been one of my favorites.”