• Don Vizi, Executive Director

Woodford County Chamber of Commerce update

DON VIZI, CEO of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by John McGary)

The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce is a membership based organization with a mission to advance the general welfare and prosperity of Woodford County. Particular attention is given to economic development, as well as civic, commercial, cultural, industrial and educational interests of the area. The chamber is not a political organization and we do not take positions on political candidates nor do we endorse one chamber member over another. The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce website is a single point of contact for information about Woodford County. The chamber website has links to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, the Woodford County Tourism Commission, the cities of Versailles and Midway, and the Woodford County government. The chamber website is also the location for a calendar of community events. All community organizations can list their activities on our website for free. We are also partners with Community Digital Advertising to provide publicity for community events on eight different digital screens around the county. The chamber has accomplished many things in the past year, and I have broken them down in several categories. Economic development . The chamber, with the help of various community members, submitted all necessary paperwork for the re-accreditation of Woodford County as a "Work Ready Community." . To encourage small businesses to expand and relocate to Woodford County, the chamber has compiled a list of available commercial properties for sale or lease and this information is posted on our website. . We have met with the property manager of the vacant Kroger shopping center building to recommend the types of businesses that we should recruit to fill the already vacant buildings and the buildings that will soon be vacant. . We have kept the Woodford County Economic Development Authority aware of the small business projects in which we have been involved. . The chamber helped coordinate and was the master of ceremony for the American Howa Kentucky ground-breaking. . The chamber also worked with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority to provide information to and attended meetings with the management of "More Than A Bakery," The chamber also supported "More Than A Bakery" at Planning and Zoning Commission meetings and at other community meetings. . Had meetings on Workforce Development with Commerce Lexington and members of the health care community, manufacturing community, and the education community. The purpose was to examine the five-year work force requirements for manufacturing and health care. . We published the Woodford Living Magazine as a marketing tool to draw new businesses and individuals to Woodford County. The chamber won a state-wide award for this publication from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives. . We have provided statistical data and feasibility studies to firms interested in starting a business in the county that include restaurants, hotels and a film company. . A new initiative for the chamber is being partners with the Bluegrass Community Foundation in forming the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce Charitable Fund under the umbrella of the Bluegrass Community Foundation. This would enable the chamber to apply for available grant funds to assist with community improvement. Recreation: We have coordinated with Judge-Executive John Coyle as well as Parks and Recreation on the project to bring a disc golf course to Woodford County. We solicited funds from Joe Graviss of Graviss McDonald's Restaurant to donate $7,500 for equipment for this project. Between Joe Graviss, Parks and Recreation and the chamber, we interviewed developers and selected a team to build the disc golf course. The 18-hole professional disc golf course located at the Woodford County Park, will open by the end of 2016. Community involvement: . The chamber now has the capability for community organizations to put information about their events on the chamber website and on our digital display board in the chamber window. . We have helped the Woodford County High School community activist class with their projects in downtown Versailles. . The chamber is the host for two community organizations - the Woodford Volunteer Group and Woodford Tomorrow. . The chamber is cohosting, with the Midway Woman's Club, two candidate forums in October, where the chamber will be the moderator. . I serve on several county organizations/committees that include the Health Care Coalition, Community Education, the Healthy Community Coalition, the Education Advisory Council, the Woodford County Interagency group and also helped with the Reality Store. . I represent Woodford County in several Central Kentucky organizations, including the Central Kentucky Public Policy Group, and am a member of the board of directors for Leadership Central Kentucky, and coordinate the Leadership Class Day in Woodford County. . The chamber maintains phone numbers and addresses of community resources and professional organizations. Tourism: The chamber manages the financials of and maintains the visitor information center and meetings for the Woodford County Tourism Commission, and helped coordinate Woodford County sponsorship of the opening reception for the state fair. The chamber provides information for visitors on places to visit, eat and shop in Woodford County to various locations in Midway to include Midway City Hall. The Woodford County maps and the Woodford Living Magazine are also available at these locations. Major projects: . For over a year and a half, the chamber has been working with the National Parks Service, Bluegrass Tomorrow, and local citizens on getting the county designated as a Certified Trail Town. This would be a great tourism and economic stimulus for the community. Through efforts of the chamber and other organizations, the Bluegrass Bike, Hike Waterways, Trails organization was able to receive a federal grant to coordinate tying Woodford County trails together with other counties' trail systems. Last year and again this year, the chamber has organized the Versailles Twilight Festival. Chamber events . The chamber again this year hosted a golf tournament and will be hosting the yearly fundraiser "Red Tie Gala" in November as well as the Chamber Awards. . We have held many ribbon-cuttings, Business after Hours and luncheons during the past year. . The chamber established the Women in Business Committee to help women understand the problems faced by women in the business community. The chamber and members of the Women in Business Committee established a mentoring program designed by the chamber for young women in high school and colleges to help them develop the soft skills necessary to succeed in the business world. Last year, we graduated 10 young women from this program. The Woodford County Woman's Club recognized myself and the chamber and the Women in Business Committee with an award for this mentoring program. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives also recognized the chamber with a state-wide award for this program. The chamber, in coordination with Woodford County Cooperative Extension Service, reestablished Leadership Woodford County, which started Sept. 8 with 11 business individuals. The chamber also started the Woodford County Young Professionals Group to give the young professionals networking opportunities and interaction with community leaders. The chamber started a weekly newsletter to keep members informed about what has happened in the past week and what to look for in the coming week. Membership: . Membership in June 2015 was 214. . Membership in June 2016 was 251. Last, but definitely not least, is our commitment to our members. The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce has over more than 250 business and individual members. Our individual members are residents who want to stay involved and know what is going on in the community. This is accomplished through our website, monthly newsletters and periodic emails inviting them to chamber and community events. The chamber, through our sponsors, hosts monthly luncheons and Business after Hours events which are free to chamber members. For new businesses and relocating businesses, we support them with ribbon-cuttings and invite all our chamber members to attend. Chamber members are listed on our website with links to their business sites and encouraged to put their marketing information in the chamber office. We are dedicated to business referrals of chamber members. For more information about the chamber, contact me at (859) 873-5122 or woodforddirector@gmail.

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