There are people who are good at their jobs, and then there are people who take their profession to another level: These individuals become leaders of their industry and influence the greater community through their hard work and dedication. This was the case with Susan Hamo. Here, Lute Harmon Sr., chairman of Great Lakes Publishing — parent company of
April 2012 Issue
Editor's Note: Remembering Susan Hamo
Ohio Magazine — shares his thoughts about Susan’s contributions in promoting Ohio tourism and, by extension, the economic development of our state. — Vivian Pospisil
Ohio’s travel and tourism industry lost its most passionate advocate with the passing of Susan Hamo in February. Susan, president and CEO of the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau and a former president of the Ohio Travel Association, spent her life promoting the destinations and attractions Ohioans and visitors enjoy and appreciate, and persuading Ohio’s elected officials that tourism is one of the state’s greatest economic assets.
It was a vocation for which she was uniquely qualified. For those who work in tourism, it was always a special treat to attend meetings with Susan and the sitting Ohio governor. The governor would begin the meeting by explaining with great seriousness how broke the state was at the moment and Susan would listen patiently. Then it would be her turn. She would flash the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen and start: “Governor, you know tourism generates $38 billion in revenue annually. You also know 439,000 Ohioans work in tourism. And I know you know that for every dollar spent promoting tourism $14 comes back to our state. Add that to the fact that Michigan is spending five times more than we are on tourism and I ask you: Don’t you think it’s time to double Ohio’s travel and tourism budget?”
Her presentations were so professional, yet filled with such personality and warmth, that I can’t believe she didn’t get the order every time. She didn’t, but she won more rounds than she lost. No matter what the outcome, she never lost faith in her belief that Ohio was a great travel destination, and that one day it would reach its full potential.
To know Susan Hamo was to be reminded constantly that one person can still make a difference in changing the world; in this case, the world you and I live in. Susan was honored in Akron for all she accomplished for that city and region. It is fitting and deserved that we pay tribute to her for all she did for the state she loved and fought for. Ohio has lost a very good friend. — Lute Harmon