According to Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce President Mark Locke, there were a lot of changes and accomplishments in the business sector in 2017.

"The downtown arts district continues to grow with progress continuing on Camelot, a large art installation at the corner of Arch and Main," he noted. 

Other highlights included Sally’s Auto rebuilding after being destroyed by fire and Newson Towers major renovations, as well as a number of new businesses opening such as: Caddie Shack’s outdoor water park, Lake Community Credit Union at Carnation City Mall, ComQuest’s detox and recovery unit at Alliance Community Hospital, Refresh Dental in the old Stark State building, Hometown Urgent Care at the corner of State and Sawburg, Powers Oil on West Main, and the new Hampton Inn on State Street.

"Our Tourism Committee held the first annual Food Truck Rally which was a huge success," Locke added. 

Locke anticipates many changes coming in 2018 as well. "The biggest challenge for businesses in 2018 will remain to be finding employees as the economy continues to grow," he said. "Look for many expansions and possible new businesses in 2018."

Some things coming are the opening of the new Columbia Gas maintenance facility at the corner of Main and Sawburg, expansions planned for Aldi’s on State Street and the Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Alliance facility, as well as First Presbyterian Church’s plans to break ground for a new church building.

One change that has happened specific to the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce was moving from a fiscal year of April through March to a calendar year. "This brought our financial year in line with our programing year which has always been on a calendar year," he said. "The purpose was to make our financials easier to assemble and to understand."

Due to this change, the Chamber has been lead by Chair Dustin Burgess in April of 2016. Locke said Burgess and the rest of the Board of Directors stepped up and volunteered to serve through the end of 2017, giving them a longer-than-normal term. The gavel will be passed during the annual meeting.  

"Dustin started a couple new projects during his term including changing the fiscal year and making Chamber member visits to thank them for their membership and to find out what changes they would like to see the Chamber make to better serve them," Locke said, adding that the visits will continue under the leadership of new Chair Rob Todor.

"We anticipate that 2018 will be another great year," Locke added. "The economy continues to grow and we expect Alliance to benefit from that. We will see several businesses expand in 2018 and expect several new businesses to open."