• By Don Vizi, CEO

Woodford County Chamber of Commerce report

What is the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce? The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce is a membership advocacy group partnering with our community to promote business prosperity and quality of life.

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. How does the chamber support their businesses?

The chamber is committed to our members. The chamber of commerce has 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, weekly 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 and are great networking opportunities.

For new businesses and relocating businesses, we support them with ribbon-cuttings and invite all our chamber members to attend and have the ribbon-cutting photo in the Woodford Sun.

Chamber members are listed on our website with links to their business sites and are encouraged to put their marketing information in the chamber office. All chamber members are listed in the chamber's Woodford Living Magazine, which is available to visitors who come to the chamber, as well part of the chamber website, www.woodfordcountyinfo.com.

The magazine provides the membership with an inexpensive way to advertise. The chamber only recommends businesses that are chamber members. One of the newest chamber programs is the mentoring program for male high school and college students. This is a similar program to the Women in Business Committee's mentoring program (#careerready) for high school and college women. Both programs' objectives are to teach the soft skills needed to succeed in business.

During the Woodford County High School "HIVE TIME," we presented several programs to the students that included leadership, social media, business etiquette, writing cover letters and resumes, and how to prepare for an interview.

The chamber recently won two awards from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE); one for our Woodford Living Magazine and one for the chamber's percentage increase in membership. The chamber last year formed a Woodford County Young Professionals Group. The purpose is to get young professionals involved with the chamber, but also involve them with leaders of the community.

How does the chamber support the community? The 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 working with Community Digital Advertising to provide publicity for community events on the eight different digital screens around the county. The chamber assists the efforts of the Woodford Economic Development Commission by providing information to prospective companies interested in locating in Woodford County.

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. The chamber's website provides information on commercial properties for sale and lease.

We have been working with the property manager of the Lexington Road Center to try and find businesses to locate at the former Kroger space. The chamber is involved with regionalization through the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce executives, Leadership Central Kentucky and the Central Kentucky Public Policy Group.

The chamber has joined with the UK Cooperative Extension Service to offer Leadership Woodford County to business professionals who want to learn more about Woodford County. Last year, we graduated 11 business leaders and this year we have 12 leaders in the seven-month program. Next year we will again hold candidate forums for the upcoming 2018 elections.

This year, we supported the business community by hosting two job fairs, and supported the members of the community by hosting an antique/swap meet. The chamber will continue to present a festival for Woodford County as we have done for the last four years with the Twilight Festival.

This year's crowd was the largest ever, with more than 6,000 people attending this free family event. There were food vendors, arts and crafters, community organizations, a kids' zone and lots of entertainment. The chamber's well-known Red Tie Gala will be held Nov. 10 at KCTCS, along with our chamber awards. This year's event will celebrate Veterans Day.

The chamber works very closely with the Woodford County Tourism Commission. Together we operate the Woodford County Tourist Information Center and help coordinate advertising outside of Woodford County in various magazines and at state visitors' centers. Check out the tourism commission website www. reservewoodford.com.

The chamber is a founding member of the Bluegrass Bike Hike Horseback Water Trails Alliance. The regional goal is to continue to expand the scope of the Bluegrass Bike Hike Horseback Water Trails Alliance in the region by looking at safe passage and linkages from proposed trails in Scott and Fayette counties (Phase I). The long-range vision is to have the best public world-class hike, bike, horseback and water trails system in the nation right here in the Bluegrass Region of Central Kentucky.

The chamber recently coordinated with the Department of Public Advocacy and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott to host a free expungement information session.

Last year, the chamber was responsible, along with community partners, to have Woodford County reaccredited as a Work Ready Community. The chamber coordinated with Daisy Hill Senior Living to establish the Woodford County Health Care Coalition, bringing together health care professionals from Woodford County and the surrounding area to discuss health care issues.

We would like to have all businesses and individuals interested in what is happening in Woodford County become a member of the chamber. For more information about the chamber, contact Don Vizi, executive director, at 859-873-5122 or woodforddirector@gmail.com.

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