Leigh Anne Smith has become a common name in the Scioto County household, ever since she began her television show, “Positively Portsmouth,” on the Zone. Serving the area isn’t something new to her, however, having a long history of fostering her hometown community through various platforms.
Smith was born and raised in the area, but went away for a few years to receive an education at Kent State and to build job experience at a plethora of radio stations around the country.
She eventually returned home and was in an adjustment period when she decided to help American Savings Bank while they had one of their employees go on leave. During her time there, she began to help them in marketing and advertising, eventually proving her worth and being hired full-time to tell the positives of the bank.
“I joined to help them tell the bank’s story, because it really is a great one,” Smith said. “I eventually fell in love with community banking and all of the people involved. Without community banking, most people wouldn’t be able to get a car, a college education, a house, a business, or whatever else they need investment in.”
Smith said that time is everything in the banking world. Community banking solves many issues that could arise for smaller businesses and individual bankers.
“Without your bank having the ability to make local decisions, and without having someone who personally knows you making these decisions, a person could miss out,” Smith explained. “If you had to wait for someone from Cleveland or Cincinnati to make that decision, you could lose out on opportunity. Plus, we make our money here, spend our money here, invest in here, and make decisions based on here.”
Smith explained that, while the bank provides a lot of financial assistance to the individuals who bank with them, she is most proud of the involvement the bank has in the community.
American Savings Bank has a variety of programs that are dedicated to assisting community members in many capacities, from education to free health screenings. The bank administration might change over years, but the fact that it continues to see the importance of giving does not.
Smith said that working at American Savings Bank for 16 years has provided her with a second family that she loves. All of her work has led to her having the position of assistant vice president of community relations.
Over the years of spreading the American story, Smith has also heavily volunteered at Portsmouth Little Theatre (PLT). What bloomed from a hobby, theatre has become a major part of Smith’s life.
She has performed in many shows on the PLT stage and has served in many positions on the board of governors.
“It is something I feel the community needs. We are all very passionate about the arts at PLT and we want to provide good entertainment for our patrons,” Smith explained. “Every year, our productions are only getting better and better, because we believe good arts should be happening.”
Both of her jobs have put Smith in the community eye and have introduced her to many of Portsmouth’s best leaders and involved community members.
When she was approached about being the face of “Positively Portsmouth,” the only hesitation Smith had was if her employer would allow her to be involved. After a very supportive push from American, Smith jumped into her 1950’s themed kitchen to highlight the positives of the area.
“It is pretty awesome to have a bigger audience, other than the people who already know me, hear me talk about all the positives in the area,” Smith said. “I am so frustrated to hear people talk smack about this town, because the things that people complain about are the problems nearly all small towns face across the country.”
A common misconception Smith said she hears is that there is nothing to do in the area. She highlights many of the area happenings during her show.
“For those who say the area has nothing to do, they’ve clearly never planned an event, because as soon as you do, you are working around dozens of events and activities,” Smith claimed. “There is something going on every weekend of the year.”
Smith said that she enjoys working with “Positively Portsmouth,” because it requires her to look at the good and she doesn’t have to report the bad. She explained that the show started off a little slower than she was hoping, but it exploded and she now has a challenging time keeping up with the beat of all the positives.
“The show started off slower and I had no idea what it would be three or four months down the road, or how large it would become. I didn’t think it would grow into something this big, though” Smith said. “We keep getting more people wanting to highlight the area and we get more and more positive feedback each show.”
Smith has come a long way from being a graduate from the school of journalism at Kent State.
Today, she keeps her full-time job at American Savings Bank, her second job as the community cheerleader on “Positively Portsmouth,” and helps keep the Portsmouth Little Theatre running. She is also a volunteer with many goals, being a member of the Portsmouth-Scioto County Visitors Bureau, the Portsmouth Bicentennial Committee, the Amazing Race Team, the Scioto County Health Coalition, and assists in other non-profit organizations like the Portsmouth Area Ladies and the area Jaycee’s, when she can.
“I’m proud to be a part of this community, working behind the scenes to bring great things to the fabulous people here and to be a cheerleader for them,” Smith said. “By far, they are our best resource and I look forward to celebrating them and the positives every day.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.