Annetta Shirk has lived in Hardin County her entire life, but she never got to fully witness all it has to offer until she joined the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.
Shirk has been the Director of Chamber and Tourism with the HCCBA for almost four years. It’s her responsibility to not only promote Hardin County internally and externally, but also to handle public relations, Hardin County Ambassadors and safety council programs.
Shirk was born and raised in the county, attending and graduating from Upper Scioto Valley. She now resides in the Dunkirk area.
In her time as the Director of Chamber and Tourism, she has learned more about the county than she ever imagined she would.“I’d never been out to Lawrence Woods until I came here,” Shirk said. “You start appreciating things more, realizing what assets the county has that maybe others don’t have.We have a beautiful courthouse, and you go to some of the other surrounding counties, they don’t have the courthouse we’ve got. We did a tour there this past summer with a group of ladies and they said it was one of their favorites in the area.”
According to Shirk, the two main points of tourism she is asked about are Wilson Sporting Goods Manufacturing Company in Ada and the old order Amish of southern Hardin County and northern Logan County. Those two things she was familiar with prior to working at the HCCBA.
“Before I stared here, I worked with Roby’s for many years. I did outside sales, so I did calls on Wilson’s, so I was familiar with them,” Shirk explained. “My husband and I have horses, so we have friends who are Amish, so I’m very familiar with the Amish community.”
Promoting Hardin County isn’t something Shirk ever imagined she’d be doing. For 25 years, she worked at Roby Company, and for a time during those 25 years, Xerox as well. Xerox was a part of Roby’s but separated, during which part of that time, she went with Xerox, but always had an office at Roby’s.
In her time working with Roby’s, the HCCBA was one of her customers, and in working with them, she always found what they did interesting.
“I love graphic arts, design and laying things out,” Shirk said. “It wasn’t something I initially thought, ‘I want to do this,’ but as time went on, somebody approached me who was on the board and said, ‘I think you’d be great at this job,’ because they had seen some of the different things I had put together, and they knew I was a people person – I like to get out and talk to people.”
There’s always something going with the HCCBA, whether it’s in or out of the office, Shirk said, and because of that, it’s always necessary for her to be on her toes. “You’ve got to constantly be multitasking,” she said. “There’s things going on with all four divisions (Chamber of Commerce, Tourism, Economic Development and Community Development). It keeps you on your toes. It’s very busy – there’s something going on in this office all of the time … and we’re all a team. We pitch in together and work on projects together to get them all taken care of and the needs of our membership taken care of.
“Everything cycles, but there’s always something new, whether it’s a member having questions or a new program that we’re going to launch. There’s always something, so you’re always adapting or changing with what’s going on.” Because of the busy schedule, it can mean working at different times of the day on different days, including weekends. Luckily, she said, she loves what she does and has support from her husband, Tom.
“When there’ s an event coming up, you may work late on getting that event together,” she explained. “There’s events on Saturdays, so if a member wants a ribbon cutting on a Saturday, you just automatically do it; it’s just part of the job. My husband is very supportive and I drag him along when the events are on the weekends. When he’s not at work, he’ll go to the different events, whether it was back when we were doing Gene Autry Days or a ribbon cutting.”
Despite the busy schedule, Shirk and her husband are members of the Hardin County Draft Horse Association and also belong to the Black Swamp Driving Club.