It's not taking much for Steve Stevens to settle into his new job as president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Stevens, 45, began working for the Chamber in 1991. Most recently he was Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. Earlier this year, Chamber President Gary Toebben was recruited away by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. The board here quickly concluded that Stevens, a lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky (now residing in Taylor Mill with his wife and two sons), is the right man for the job.

Stevens, a University of Kentucky graduate, has an impressive chamber-related resume and hands-on business experience. He holds a master plumber's license and once worked for his family's mechanical contracting company.
The Chamber named Stan Lampe to replace Stevens in the public affairs job. Lampe has a corporate public relations background and was executive director of communication for the Kentucky Education Cabinet.

As for Toebben, he left behind a chamber that is growing in numbers (having just hit the 2,000 member mark) and influence. The Los Angeles Chamber recently referred to him and his wife, Janice Toebben, a vice president at US Bank, as "L.A.'s newest power couple."

"Ikea is coming to West Chester!" will rank as one the Tristate's biggest, if not most talked about, economic stories of the year. If you want the real lowdown on how the growing Butler County community nabbed this retail prize, visit "OH, IKEA! The Source for Ohi'™s Ikea News!" ( The main page is headlined "OHIKEA"”IKEA in Ohio...Because Learning to Beg in Swedish is Hard." Ikea is an obsession of Jen Funk Segrest, a Middletown web designer who's been touting West Chester as an ideal site for Ohi'™s first Ikea since 2004. "This is just a little fan site that started off as a Ohio store rumor mill and will now monitor the new store's construction and breaking news," she explains. She reports construction of the 339,000-square-foot megastore is to begin in October. And Segrest offers an optimistic take on the one aspect that worries some local residents: "Nice to see West Chester knows they have to work on traffic issues there ASAP. It will be the biggest nightmare if done wrong."

The West Chester Chamber Alliance has a re-formed lineup in its staff involving Kerry Murray, Kenni Blaché and Alison Miuccio. Murray"”who had been handling membership services, marketing and public relations"”is now Leadership Development Director. Blaché is now in charge of Membership Services. Miuccio recently joined the staff as marketing director. She started her career in public relations at Lifetime Television in New York City, then moved to work as a promotions director for several radio stations in Florida. In 2002, she relocated to the Cincinnati area with her husband, Dean, and son, Devon. The following year she formed M&S Marketing Inc. with her father, Martin Stuart.

National City Bank is the leading Small Business Association lender for the first time in the Columbus district, which also includes Cincinnati, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For the 2005 SBA fiscal year, National City made 260 SBA loans in the district, totaling nearl $44 million. National City also ranked among the top 10 largest SBA lenders in the United States in 2005. National City reports it is expanding its small business banking product line, having provided $1.3 billion in small business loans and lines of credit in 2005.

Clermont County Commission Vice President Bob Proud has been elected to the board of directors for the National Association of Development Organizations for 2006-2007. Proud will represent members in the Midwestern region of NADO. Based in Washington, NADO provides advocacy, education, research and training services for regional development organizations.

Area leaders have been named to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau's 2006 board of directors, joining a group that includes representatives from the arts, sports, restaurants, hotels and attractions. Nick Vehr, chief strategic officer at Jack Rouse & Associates, is now GCCVB board chairman. Joining him on the executive committee as secretary/treasurer is Alan Welch, immediate past president and CEO of the GCCVB and a retired Procter & Gamble executive. Also new to the GCCVB board are Louise Hughes, Procter & Gamble; Richard Goehler, Frost, Brown and Todd; Jean-Robert de Cavel, chef de cuisine and owner of Jean-Robert French Restaurant Group; and Mike Smith, Music and Event Management Inc.

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