Lois J. Fisher Featured

9:53am EDT July 22, 2002

Lois Fisher is a picture of perseverance.

When a July 1987 flood swept through Marion, severely damaging the entire town, including the 164-room motel, banquet hall and restaurant Fisher had purchased just two years earlier, she could’ve thrown in the towel on business ownership. Instead, Fisher called in family members from across the state to help her and her employees clean and repair enough of the Harding Motor Lodge to keep it operating while she sought funds to restore the rest.

By September of that year, she’d secured a $452,600 disaster loan through the Small Business Administration. Good thing. Since the building had actually floated off its foundation during the flood, the entire structure needed to be replaced. In fact, roughly half of the structure was torn down during the restoration, leaving just 99 motel rooms in the facility. Suddenly, Fisher’s income potential had been significantly reduced.

Once again, Fisher showed her determination to succeed in business. She collectively acquired and built about 100,000 square feet of office space, which she could lease to supplement her motel business income. In addition, she added a 30,000-square-foot medical office to her growing real estate portfolio.

In recognition of her ongoing business success, despite this potentially crippling natural disaster, Fisher was honored earlier this year with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 1999 Columbus District Phoenix Award.

“Mrs. Fisher is truly one of Marion’s outstanding entrepreneurs,” says Pamela Hall, president of the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, in her letter nominating Fisher for the SBA award. “She is extremely active in the Marion business community and is highly respected for her business skills and investment success.”

Fisher is a founding member of at least four business groups in Marion County, including the Marion Women’s Business Council, Entrepreneurial Alliance Inc. and South Marion Business Association — and she continues to serve on the boards of these three. She is also on the boards of Leadership Ohio, HealthFirst/HealthOhio Inc., Marion Bank and the Marion Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Last year, Fisher was also honored with the first ever ATHENA Foundation Award by the Women’s Business Council, an affiliate of the Marion chamber.

Nancy Byron (nbyron@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN Columbus.