2018-09-12 / Front Page

Ripke Passionate About Local Business


Amy Krueger, former Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce director, and Lora Ripke, who recently took over as director.– photo by Mary Huber Amy Krueger, former Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce director, and Lora Ripke, who recently took over as director.– photo by Mary Huber Lora Ripke, the new director of the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, is passionate about keeping local businesses open.

And she sees value in small towns.

“I really enjoy being a part of a small community, a small town, and I think there’s just so much that those communities, with friends and neighbors, can offer,” she said.

“I think stores and businesses in these small towns, with all of the competition, they stay alive because people feel like they’re part of the town and part of the story” of the community.

“It’s very true. You can get online, you can make your purchases quickly, easily, conveniently, and have things shipped to your door,” she said.

“But the things that are missing from that are the walking down the block and visiting with a neighbor or a friend at a business– the connection. That’s what keeps communities going– that kind of connection.”

Appreciation

Ripke can appreciate what small towns offer.

A Pettisville native, she moved around, then finished high school at PHS, graduating in 1996.

She attended the University of North Texas, and spent a year working in England.

“When I was there, I had the Texas accent and the Ohio accent, and I picked up a little British,” she said.

“Everybody (in England) asked me where I was from. They thought I was Irish, because of that combination.”

So, Texas, plus British, with Ohio thrown in, equals Irish?

“That’s what they said,” she said.

Upon returning from England, she moved to Dallas, where she worked for a travel company for a few years.

“All roads lead back to Fulton County somehow,” she said.

Ridgeville

Today, Ripke lives in Ridgeville Corners with her 12- year-old son, Theodore, a sixth grader at Tinora.

“I love it. You can’t put a price on that kind of smalltown community there,” she said.

The Ripke family all live along the Ridge Road, so her son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are nearby. Many members of her family live in the Pettisville area.

“Ridgeville is an awesome little town,” she said.

“When I relocated back here, I worked for Defiance County briefly, then I worked at Defiance College for about four years in the alumni office doing fundraising and event planning.

“That experience in higher education was a good one. Then I moved into doing fundraising for the nonprofit world. I worked for Sunshine communities in Maumee for three years.

“I was the manager of the development departments there, and did fundraising, grant writing, and event planning. I worked in the Fulton County community.

“I was heavily involved with the Black Swamp Benefit, which was really fun.”

But after three years, “I had one of those ‘ah ha’ moments when I realized I needed to take a break from the 40-, 50-, 60-hour weeks.”

Her next stop was Ten Thousand Villages in Archbold, where she was the marketing director. After two years, she took the AACC position.

Chamber

She was attracted to the chamber position because “working for a non-profit retail store in Archbold really made me appreciate the necessity for keeping local businesses supported by people in the community,” she said.

“At the Chamber, I’m just getting my feet wet. I’m just learning.

“I am looking forward to learning more about what this community and what this business community wants and what they need.

“One of the resources we provide is some collaborative marketing, building more of an online presence. I would like to increase that, because that’s where it’s at; there’s no going around it at this point.

“We have to be competitive in the online world and in social media.”

Her position is full-time. She is the only Chamber employee.

“There’s a benefit to that, and there’s not sometimes. If somebody loses the keys, we know who it was. Only one person to roll under the bus!”

The best description of her job may have come from her son.

When explaining her new job to Theodore, he said, “So you’re like a social worker, but you work with businesses instead of people.”

“When you think about it, it kind of makes sense,” she said. “It’s getting information from each of our members, finding out what their needs are, and going from there.”

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