• By Don Vizi, Executive Director

Woodford County Chamber of Commerce yearly review

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

This year the chamber received an award from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE), a statewide organization, for Excellence in Membership Retention. In the past three years, the chamber has received recognition for: Outstanding Publication twice (Woodford Living Magazine), Outstanding Event (Versailles Twilight Festival), Outstanding Event (Women in Business), and Outstanding Membership Growth.

We are really proud of our retention rate of 94.5 percent for 2017, that tells us that we are providing benefits for our members. We thank our members and our partners for their support of the chamber. We have also received great support for many years from Mayor Traugott and the Versailles City Council and Judge-Executive John Coyle and the Woodford County Magistrates.

This year’s Versailles Twilight Festival drew over 7,500 individuals to downtown Versailles and over 120 vendors that included: community organizations, arts and crafts, food, beer, wine and bourbon vendors. A great time was had by all.

We are very proud of our Leadership Woodford County program co-sponsored by the UK Woodford County Extension Service. This year’s class had 21 adult students participating in the six-month course. The students were given the opportunity to learn about each other and the community. The monthly program started with orientation and the Leadership Challenge course. The program includes: Agriculture Day, Industry & Economic Development Day, Health Care Day, Kentucky Legislature Day, Local Government & Community Services Day, Education Day, Law & Justice System Day and Graduation Day. Contact us to add your name to the list for the 2019 class.

The chamber coordinated Candidate Forums for candidates running for: county clerk and county magistrates, Versailles Mayor and Versailles City Council, Woodford County School board, and District 56th state representative, 14th judicial district judge and commonwealth attorney. We had a candidate forum for Midway City Mayor and Midway City Council on Oct. 18 at Midway University. Mentoring is very important to the chamber. The chamber’s Women in Business committee has a mentoring program for high school and college students. This is a one-on-one program. The executive director has presented programs at various classes at the Woodford County High School on leadership, business etiquette, how to write cover letters and resumes, and the use of social media.

The chamber works very closely with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, meeting with clients and providing these clients with information about Woodford County. We have conducted three job fairs to help our local businesses find employees. The chamber has coordinated an expungement seminar to help individuals get back into the work force.

The chamber compiled a document, “How to start a Business in Woodford County,” and posted that information on our website to help businesses navigate the regulations of starting a business in Woodford County. It provides guidance on who to contact for more information on starting a business. We also keep a list of available commercial properties in the area that are for sale or lease. If you have such a property, please send the information to us, as we are constantly asked about property in the area.

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 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. Check out the tourism commission website www.reservewoodford.com.

This year, with the cooperation of many members in the community, we completed a package sent to the state to recertify Woodford County as a Work Ready Community.

By joining the chamber, you have the opportunity to become actively involved in economic and community development projects. Not everyone will have the time to participate in all activities; however, your investment ensures that the chamber is open for business and is working to improve OUR community.

Put the chamber to work for you through;

• Business promotion – Programs and events such as ribbon cuttings, open houses, and community events are provided by the chamber to support and promote all businesses including retail, manufacturers, and the thoroughbred industry.

• Business contacts – Throughout the year, the chamber sponsors numerous activities and events where members have the opportunity to network with other businesses and business owners that will in turn help increase profitability. You and your employees can meet others in the community at business related social activities such as free Business after Hours and monthly chamber luncheons.

• Business information – The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce provides specific demographic, statistical and research data on Woodford County. This information is available to members at any time.

• Professional publications – Members are informed of the latest chamber events and activities by publication of the bi-weekly newsletter. New chamber members are listed in the newsletter, and each issue includes information on programs and activities throughout Woodford County, as well as the business community. The chamber’s Businesses & Services Directory lists all current members of the chamber and is an important selling tool in promoting Woodford County. These directories are distributed to each member and anyone interested in relocating to Woodford County. Other chamber publications include the city/county map, the Woodford County brochure and the Annual Report (supplement to the Woodford Sun)

• Business Referrals – Each year, we receive thousands of inquiries, which are processed through the chamber office. Many of these inquiries are requests for information on Woodford County businesses, professionals, their products and their services. While we support the business community overall in Woodford County, we give preference to chamber members where referrals and recommendations are concerned.

• Training opportunities – The chamber sponsors quality workshops and seminars for employees and businesses with a desire to continually educate their staff and improve upon their existing services.

• Tourism promotion – Woodford County attractions are promoted by the chamber with brochures, coordinated advertising and by providing information on community events to the thousands of inquiries that the Chamber office receives.

• Affinity programs – The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with several member businesses to bring member-only discounts to the chamber members. Get the deepest discounts possible and save money at participating companies.

Why Does Your Investment Matter?

• 57 percent of potential customers search local resources for businesses. Being a chamber member gives your business 24/7 marketing through the on-line business directory

• 44 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that are chamber members and 63 percent are more likely to purchase goods and services from that company in the future.

• As a chamber member, you are involved in your local community. You have an opportunity to share and work collectively as a group to accomplish the greater good for the community and your business.

If you are an individual that doesn’t have a business and still wants to be involved, we welcome you to be a part of the chamber. Check out our website at www.woodfordcountyinfo.com or call me at 859-873-5122.

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