Years ago, when she worked for Allegiant Bank and was involved in opening its branch at Kehrs Mill and Clarkson roads, Nora Amato reached out to the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce for help.
"They got the word out to everyone," Amato said. "They engaged me to have First Thursday Coffee. They introduced us to the other business members who could help me or learn more about Chesterfield, about where I needed to spend my marketing dollars."
It wasn't the last time Amato opened a new bank branch in Chesterfield — and it wasn't the last time she leaned on the Chamber of Commerce for help. She speaks fondly of working with a little more than a year ago of cancer.
Today, that Allegiant Bank branch has been taken over by PNC. And on Monday, Amato takes the reins of one of the largest chambers in the area, with a membership of more than 700 companies representing 27,000 employees in the area.
Amato acknowledges that one of her challenges will be coming into the organization following the brief run of .
Six months later, Taylor resigned without explanation, leaving the post immediately upon the announcement. There has not been an explanation for his departure and Amato didn't comment on it other than to say it was part of the challenge.
Bigger challenges, she said, are the economy and the competition among all nonprofits in the region for time, attention and money. She believes the chamber's biggest challenge is making sure the business community sees and understands the value the chamber can bring — much as she saw when she opened bank branches years ago.
"With what's going on in the economy, we're still strong and we've been kind of immune," Amato said. "We have been hit, but we've been strong and we have a lot of potential for growth to be the premiere chamber in the region."
Amato, who was raised in Chesterfield and graduated in 1985 from Parkway Central High, says the chamber has a lot to offer businesses—marketing opportunities, educational seminars, networking opportunities, internal communication—services that can be especially helpful for small businesses.
"A lot of businesses are smaller and we're a huge resource," she said.
Amato studied business administration at Drury University in Springfield before returning to the area, where she has worked in a variety of capacities in the banking industry, including mortgage, corporate marketing and charitable giving for banks such as Lindell Bank and Trust, Allegiant/National City, the former WestBridge Bank and Trust and Stifel Bank and Trust.
She's also been active in a number of community organizations, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lydia's House and the St. Louis County Library Foundation, where she was heavily involved in the project to bring the Center for Family History to Chesterfield. That project is still in the fundraising stages.
"It won't rival the one in Utah, but it will be one of the largest of its kind," she said.
While Amato is generally well known among movers and shakers in the business community, she will be officially introduced at the chamber's general membership meeting on Wednesday.
She also plans to be at the chamber's annual Pumpkin Run on Oct. 27.
"I was going to walk-run in it," she joked. "So I guess now I'll work it."