A few days ago Peter, my husband, and I took a drive up Ohio 7 north along the Ohio River. As we left Marietta we first passed by the large retail stores and shopping centers. The car dealerships and other assorted local, regional and national businesses were next. I wondered, is the Marcellus Shale exploration impacting our local economy when I saw a yard filled with pipes, fuller than I've seen it in a number of years.
We went through Reno with its mix of homes, stores and businesses. The 7 North Industrial Park, though still a grassy meadow, will soon undergo excavation and a new commercial site will be created. The Tree Farm land is for sale and with its frontage on this heavily traveled road seems ideal for retail development, while it's nice that a portion of this property will be reserved for Mother Nature.
Farther north, the road edged closer to the Ohio River, the grand, majestic waterway that brought the pioneers to this region. Our blessing when the river brings commerce, it's our curse when it overflows the banks and leaves behind a stinky, muddy mess. As we drove on, we saw barges riding low in the water churning up a murky river. The farmer's fields were drying out from the rainy month of May and in the distance the Willow Island plant.
In just 30 minutes we saw the variety of businesses that create jobs for our valley's residents. We saw farming, manufacturing, and so much more. We saw the houses and small towns people call home. We saw a baseball stadium, church steeples, and signs pointing to a nearby school. All the elements that make a community and a place to call home.
How fortunate we are to have two rivers: the Ohio River, broad and flowing fast, with islands of lush green tree groves, barges passing by, sometimes two side by side. A river so broad you can't holler across it. Separating Marietta and Harmar is the smaller, but no less beautiful Muskingum River. With its own special charm, our Muskingum River offers crew races, rope swings dangling from the trees on the banks and spots just perfect for a picnic. On both rivers, power boats cruise while the Valley Gem offers visitors a glimpse of our town from another perspective.
These waterways are an asset; in our past bringing people and merchandise. Today these rivers are still an asset offering alternate transportation for raw materials and finished goods, while attracting people interested in recreation on the water. We get asked quite frequently by visitors where can I go to enjoy the river? We suggest a stroll on the bike path that often ends with music on the levee. Or dine in one of several restaurants offering a river view, whether at the Boathouse, where you can dock your boat and arrive by water or in the Riverview Lounge at the Lafayette Hotel.
One of the other riverfront dining treasures is the Levee House. This restored brick building has been at the center of riverfront activities since the early days of our town. On Thursday, June 9, the chamber's monthly Business After Hours will be hosted by the Levee House as the Hearing family celebrates their first anniversary!
Business After Hours (BAH) offers chamber members an opportunity to showcase their business and, in the case of or dining establishments, a chance to sample the food. That's always a favorite. The guests who attend learn more about the business and get to meet other area business folks. BAH is the chamber's program that helps our members share information, build relationships. It's all about helping people get connected and get known. It's word-of-mouth advertising and personal recommendations. So join us on the majestic Ohio River banks at the BAH at the Levee House!
Charlotte Keim, CCEO-AP, is president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, The Riverview Building, 100 Front St., Suite 200, Marietta. Chamber Viewpoint appears every other Monday on Opinion.