Amy Simmons: Career change led to Greater Millsboro Chamber post

MILLSBORO — Amy Simmons is a Sussex County gal.

She grew up in Frankford and points between Dagsboro and Millsboro.

She’s a 1984 Sussex Central High School graduate and pursued a career in nursing at Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus.

“I was a nurse by trade,” said Ms. Simmons.

For health reasons, she took a different career path that led her to the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves as the Chamber’s Executive Director.

Her husband, Robert Simmons, works for the Town of Millsboro’s building/maintenance department. She has two children: daughter Courtney and son Ben.

“And, I am a grandma,” said Ms. Simmons.

Here is Amy Simmons.

You worked as a nurse at Peninsula Regional Medical Center and other facilities but encountered health issues. How did you wind up with the Chamber?

“For health reasons I was out on disability for a very long time, almost eight years, I had gotten to know the former director of the chamber. I had come in and volunteered some time, stuffing envelopes, doing a little secretarial work, that kind of thing.”

Then there was a changing of the guard?

“She was dismissed. The (Chamber) board did not know office (operations). They asked me, ‘Are you able stick around.’ I was titled ‘Chamber Coordinator,’ that is what I started with. As I got more comfortable and when I got more acclimated to the job, and the responsibilities of the job and that sort of thing, they changed my title in 2012 to Executive Director. And I laughed because that happened the Thursday morning after the first night Christmas parade on 12-12-12; on 12-13-12 they bumped me up.”

How about the Chamber and its membership:

“We encompass Millsboro, Dagsboro, Long Neck and Gumboro area. It’s growing. We’re up to about 172 members. When I took over I think we had about 50. So we’ve really tripled. It’s been a long haul. It has been a lot of work. But it’s fun. I never thought I’d ever want to do an office job. I really love this job.”

What do you envision as the role of the Chamber?

“The Chamber supports all of the businesses. The Chamber really needs to help the small business community. They don’t get the advertising abilities that your larger corporate businesses do. The Chamber itself, we do put on community events. The Easter Egg Hunt, the Christmas Parade … we do give back to the community in that way.”

In addition to the Easter Egg Hunt and Christmas Parade, the Greater Millsboro Chamber presents its late summer festival, the business expo, the bridal show, and recently launched its monthly coffee networking initiative. Any highlights?

“We celebrated this past year our 20th Central Sussex Bridal Show. Especially for this area to have something that runs for 20 years and is as successful as it is, I think that’s a great thing.  We had our Business Expo. We kind of revived that this year in 2015. We had over 40 business vendors.”

“This is a small thing … but we went from buying Easter eggs that had a little piece of candy in them to this year we had our eggs donated and we had a sponsor who helped buy the candy. We actually stuffed the 5,000 Easter eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt. We are going to continue to do that. I have two young girls that volunteer that are itching for the eggs – they are egg-static!”

What might the future hold for you and the Chamber?

“Naturally I want it to grow. I want to bring in more members. I really would like to see some action taken with the downtown. I think with a town like this a downtown is a very important value to the town. I am sure – looking into the future,- that the (U.S.) 113 corridor is going to grow. I would say that there is going to be more box-stores coming; not that I know of any coming right now but I do see that happening.  Traffic is our issue.”

“I see the tide is turning with the Chamber. I see members are becoming a little more active. I plan in 2016 to be out more in the public with membership, checking on members and trying to recruit new members. That has not been something I have been able to do … the board and I decided I need to get out.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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