As a borough and the seat of Chester County, West Chester is fortunate when it comes to having robust, dedicated business professionals. In fact, members of several chamber of commerce groups rally around community support year-round. However, with November being the month of gratitude, West Chester Lifestyle asked the heads of three chamber of commerce groups the following questions regarding that thankful principle:
- Attributes of West Chester/Chester County that make them most grateful to live there.
- Regarding community benefits, for what elements of their chambers they are most thankful.
- Chamber programs or events before year's end about which should readers know.
- Their favorite food or beverage from Thanksgiving meals or autumn meal options.
Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce
Katie Walker, President
When Katie moved back to West Chester in 2021 after several years living in another area, she says she honestly can say it is one of the best communities in which she's have ever lived. "I'm grateful for the downtown – for the businesses and people that make it unique and welcoming. I'm grateful to live in a community that gives back and supports one another, and I'm grateful to be part of an organization that makes this such a wonderful place to live and work," she adds.
Katie emphasizes the chamber's strong staff "who works hard every day to serve 530 members." She says she's also grateful for the chamber's dedicated 24 board of directors who "serve to ensure that we're delivering on our mission to our members and the community."
The chamber's largest, community-based event of the year is upcoming: Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends. In 2022, Katie says Lights Up will include the return of the beloved Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec. 2. "Thousands of holiday lights will once again decorate the central streets of the borough from Thanksgiving to Christmas amidst additional festivities during these weekends in West Chester. Parade-goers can expect a focus on all things local, from award-winning floats with local flair by some of Chester County’s most creative designers, to sparkling performances by hometown favorites including nationally recognized marching bands that are exclusively local. Santa has agreed to make his much-anticipated appearance." More event details can be found online at GreaterWestChester.com/Lights-Up-Christmas-Parade.
"Although I'm a summer girl, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I cherish the time spent with family and love when my Dad makes his homemade pumpkin and apple pies," Katie admits.
Exton Region Chamber of Commerce
Laurie Ryan, President
While Laurie was born and raised in Delaware County, she's been a resident of West Chester resident for 19 years and of Chester County for 30 years. "I'm grateful for the history, open space, opportunity and especially the diversity of people and cultures present from Oxford to Phoenixville, Coatesville to Paoli," she says. "As a child, I thought Paoli was the end of the line, and boy, was I wrong. I'm so grateful for having the opportunity to live, work, play and pray in such a wonderful region."
The mission of the Exton chamber is to advance economic success of the members and community by providing relationship building, marketing, education, advocacy and community outreach opportunities. Laurie says she's thankful about opportunities to witness the good that the chamber's nonprofit members and organizations do for the community, and to make the connections needed to support these missions.
Laurie says their major fundraisers conclude with Casino Night in early November, however, they're enthusiastically planning a Breakfast With Santa event at the Movie Tavern in Exton on Dec. 10. Visit the group's website for more event details.
"My ethnicity is Italian and Irish, and my Italian Mom-mom’s escarole soup was on the Thanksgiving Table throughout the generations," recalls Laurie. "While the recipe has been elevated for more flavor by my brother, Ben Fileccia, over the years, it's the one item that must be present at our holiday dinners, no matter how big or small."
Chester County Chamber Of Business And Industry
Laura Manion, President and CEO
"Chester County continues to be named one of the best places to live in the country, and reasons why are obvious," says Laura, a lifelong Chester County resident. "There's a perfect mixture of suburban, rural and urban living. Each corner of the county is unique. We strike the perfect balance here to live, work, raise a family and retire."
Laura grew up in Phoenixville, and says she and her husband recently bought their first house there. She says she's also a history buff and nature lover, so having the ability to visit so many nearby historical sites and beautiful parks "is something you won’t find anywhere else."
She adds that she's thankful to be able to collaborate with different groups in various ways, including restaurants, retail stores, museums, cultural sites, community organizations, nonprofits, and schools.
"Whether it’s hosting a networking event or informative roundtable for our members, highlighting a business or nonprofit in our weekly newsletter, lobbying for funds on behalf of a community organization, or visiting a new business, my favorite part of the job is meeting new people who are working to make Chester County a better place for everyone," Laura assures.
The chamber's Annual Awards Celebration at Longwood Gardens is Nov. 3. They will highlight an Executive of the Year -- Kim Brumbaugh, LUTCF of Brumbaugh Wealth Management, LLC -- and a Citizen of the Year -- Comcast, as accepted by Dennis Mathew, senior vice president, Freedom Region, Northeast Division, Comcast Cable. Longwood is world-renowned for its gardens, art, history and design and attracts visitors from all over the world to Chester County, Laura adds.
They also host monthly Business After Hours events at different member businesses. "We get such an eclectic list of attendees networking: lawyers, bankers, small business owners, nonprofit executives. That’s the beauty of the chamber."
In 2023, she says they will get back to hosting various informational forums and roundtables on various educational topics.
"Oddly enough, I'm not a fan of the hearty Thanksgiving meal. I'm a huge fan of the fall, though, and another reason I love Chester County is because it has so much to offer in the fall. Whether it’s a pumpkin beer or stout at one of our countless breweries or beer gardens, apple picking at Highland Orchards, a nature walk to see the changing colors of the leaves in Valley Forge National Historical Park, or a beautiful fall day at one of our wineries, I love fall activities," Laura proclaims.