ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Wendy Anderson’s is a familiar face around the business community. As director of the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce, she has been active in promoting the economy and encouraging ventures of entrepreneurs.
Originally from Wheeling, she now lives in Bridgeport.
“I’ve always been an Ohio Valley resident,” she said, discussing her love of the area.
Her involvement began while she was retail manager at Cracker Barrel. She expressed interest in the Chamber when they were having meetings at the restaurant, and she brought an inside knowledge of retail.
“I was at Cracker Barrel and the Chamber called and asked if I would be on the board,” she said. After serving on the board for several years, she moved into the president’s role for three years.
Anderson has been a part of the Chamber for close to 15 years.
“I have always loved retail, because I always think that is the building block for the community, because it employs everyday people, and you’ve got so many different types of people that go in and shop,” she said. “Cracker Barrel’s a restaurant and retail shop, so I got to see both sides of that.”
In the president’s role, Anderson gained greater familiarity with local businesses, which deepened her appreciation.
“I got to see and be part of the community. That has been my passion ever since,” Anderson said, adding that she eagerly sought out the director’s position.
“I knew I wanted this. I knew I had a passion for it,” she said. “I had a passion for bringing businesses together.”
She promoted inventiveness among retailers and restaurants in the past years as they adapted to COVID-19 and the trend toward online shopping, curbside service and other events.
“They’re getting more brave. They’re trying more things to get their name out there. They’re trying to create new events to get people into their shops. They’re trying new marketing items to showcase who they are and what they have,” Anderson said. “They have kind of adjusted their ideas about what retail really is.”
She said her goal has always been bringing people into downtown St. Clairsville and it’s many small shops
“That’s why we started Second Saturday, to bring people into St. Clairsville so they can see Three Labs Mercantile. They can go to Giacinta’s Cafe and have a wonderful panini, they can go to Past and Present if they have a quilt they do, or some kind of hobby.”
She said the wealth of stores includes a pet boutique and sports shops.
Anderson’s vision and approach include bringing businesses together and fostering cooperation.
“I don’t understand the invisible fence between Ohio County and Belmont County or Marshall County. My new passion is to bridge that gap between Wheeling, Moundsville, and Belmont County. I’ve reached out to Jefferson County,” she said, adding she is also building relationships with Guernsey County.
She is also inviting Wheeling businesses to the regular Coffee and Connections meetups to introduce themselves and share capabilities and needs. She said this will open doorways to partnerships and mutual promotion.
“That’s my vision. That’s my passion right now, to bridge that gap,” she said. “The new Intel, the new plant that is going to be coming to Ohio — and I still believe that the cracker plant will come. … When it does, those manufacturing companies are going to look and find what kind of business districts do we have? Is it a strong business community? Will they want to bring their manufacturing companies here? … They have to feel comfortable when they look at our business district.”
Anderson is also working with the Mental Health Recovery Board serving Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties to promote the well-being of residents.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be approached,” she said. “What does mental health look like in Belmont County? How is it being handled?”