Moving on, but staying close


Destiny Bryson, executive director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau of Highland County, is stepping down to accept a new position, both organizations announced in a joint news release.

But she will use her experience with both organizations to continue promoting the local area in her new position as regional manager of engagement and partnerships with the Ohio Southeast Economic Development team.

Bryson has served as the executive director for the Visitors Bureau of Highland County (VBHC) since September of 2016 and of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce since June of 2019.

During her time with the Visitors Bureau she has worked together with the board to bring a record number of visitors to Highland County. Most notably, she and a committee of volunteers from the community and the Highland County Senior Citizens Center created Smokin’ in the Hills, a Kansas City Barbeque Society competition held annually at Rocky Fork State Park, the news release said.

“The lake is one of our biggest attractions for visitors to Highland County. Back in 2017, we reignited an effort to bring economic development through tourism for the Rocky Fork Lake region. The BBQ has been a huge contribution to that success. We are known not only here in Ohio, but around the country for the venue of our event” Bryson said.

While she will be unable to head up the event moving forward, Bryson is hopeful that she can sell the idea of hosting it to another organization and even continue moving forward with the plans to host the event this year, despite obstacles presented by COVID.

“We have seen a steady increase of the number of visitors coming to Highland County since 2016. These visitors bring economic growth to our county and the surrounding areas,” said Casey McIntosh, VBHC president and owner of Batter Up Bakery in Leesburg. “Destiny’s passion and dedication to our board and our community has been a driving force. We will miss her as our leader, but recognize she will be taking over a role that will bring opportunities to Ohio’s entire southeast region.”

The mission of the VBHC is to attract visitors to Highland County through education, promotion and marketing of attractions and activities in the region. The VBHC is directed by a volunteer board of civic and business leaders.

The VBHC board is currently accepting applications to fill Bryson’s position. Interested candidates should contact Elizabeth Brennfleck, VBHC secretary, by email at [email protected] for details on the open position.

Since Bryson became excutive director of the Chamber of Commerce, the VBHC office has moved from its uptown Hillsboro location to the same office space as the Chamber in the historic Scott House in Hillsboro.

“We want to thank Destiny for her hard work and dedication to the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and our community,” said Austin Trueblood, president of the Highland County Chamber and owner of True Life Chiropractic. “Her ability to step into the organization and execute our annual dinner, golf outing and ag event has been impressive. Under Destiny’s leadership, we have increased awareness of the chamber’s role throughout the county and discovered new ways to offer plans and programs designed to promote and further the interests of our network of over 300 member businesses. We wish her the best of luck and look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role.”

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit membership-driven organization that represents the business community of Highland County. It offers members visibility to stand out and get noticed as an active member of the community. It also provides its membership with discounts and education opportunities, the news release said.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bryson created Facebook groups like Highland County Carryout and Delivery and Highland Proud to keep awareness of the changing practices during the pandemic.

The Highland County Chamber is also accepting applications to fill Bryson’s vacancy. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to [email protected] or drop off the material at the office, located at 338 W. Main St. in Hillsboro and open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Both organizations will explore candidates and continue to collaborate in ways that work best for county.

Bryson will start her new position in July. She will work with communities in the areas of strategic planning and project development, as well as with regional leaders and stakeholders to strengthen collaborations. OhioSE is the “boots on the ground” network partner of JobsOhio, covering 25 counties in Southern and Eastern Ohio, working with regional companies, local economic development organizations, local, county and state elected officials, and other regional stakeholders to accomplish its mission of economic development throughout the region. OhioSE’s work follows the JobsOhio model by providing relevant incentives to companies that are creating jobs and making capital investments within the targeted sectors, according to the news release.

“We are excited to have Destiny join our team. She will represent OhioSE in our 13 most southern counties of our 25-county region. Her years of experience in both the public and private sectors working with local elected officials, state legislators, state and county agencies made her a perfect fit for the work of our manager of engagement and partnerships,” said Katy Farber, vice president of OhioSE.

Bryson can be reached at 614-440-1885.

“Covid sure threw us all a curve ball these past three months, and with time we will find our new path forward,” Bryson said. “It is clear to see that we have many opportunities to attract, retain and grow business to the OhioSE region. I’m looking forward to being part of the team that will bring them here to southeast Ohio. I’m from here, made the choice to raise my children here, and am committed to working with others to show how great it is to live, work and play here.”

Both the Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 937-393-1111.

Bryson to join OhioSE Economic Development team

The Times-Gazette

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