Upah begins work as Chamber Coordinator
The Tama-Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce has its first paid coordinator in over two years.
The local business organization recently hired Marlys Upah to fill the part-time role after the position had been vacant since 2018 following the resignation of former coordinator Janet Busch.
Chamber Board President Brian Sokol said with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the Chamber’s usual events and activities were scaled back or canceled which put a pause on the need for hiring a new coordinator.
Volunteers and Chamber board members took on the organizing duties for the remaining events.
“We soon realized there was only so much we could do as volunteers and to be an asset to our members we had to look again at hiring a staff person,” Sokol said.
The group also restructured the position to allow for it to be a work from home role rather than centralizing things to an office as was done when Busch was brought on in 2017.
Upah is originally from the Chelsea area, graduating from South Tama County in 1986 and going on to earn an English degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
Out of college she relocated to Dubuque to work for a textbook publishing company before returning to the Tama-Toledo area to start her family. She has two daughters, Sydney, 25 and Saylor, 22.
Since 2008 Upah has worked full-time as an assistant in the South Tama County High School Counseling office.
“Working at the high school and for the Chamber feels like things have come full circle – I love this community and feel committed to seeing it, and the people who live here, grow and thrive,” Upah said.
Upah will continue in her full-time work at South Tama while serving the Chamber as a part-time coordinator working 20 hours per week.
“As business culture evolves and more technology options become available, working from home has become a common option for businesses,” Upah said. “Between my home office, my computer and smartphone, almost everything can be done outside of a physical office location. My evenings no longer involve me sitting on bleachers watching my kids play sports so I have plenty of time and look forward to connecting our businesses throughout the coming year.”
In Upah’s first weeks on the job she’s been working to restart the Chamber’s annual membership drive after the organization allowed all businesses a year of free membership as a relief measure throughout the pandemic.
The LepBARchaun Dash fun run is also returning this year after a pandemic-related hiatus, an effort that Upah is helping to organize.
Upah’s goals for the coming year are to engage with businesses in the Tama-Toledo area and find out what supplemental support services the Chamber could help facilitate or provide.
“Whether it’s publicizing their events to the community on our social media, advertising their job openings, encouraging a pro “shop local” mindset, or showcasing their talents – I want the Tama-Toledo area to see what our small businesses can offer,” Upah said.
Sokol said he believed Upah’s connection to the community and command of modern media and communication tools were the characteristics that set her apart as a candidate for the coordinator position.
“As president, I am excited to work with Marlys and our board to continue promoting our business community and all the events that bring people together,” Sokol said. “We already have some great ideas to improve our website and increase our social media presence within the coming year.”