By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce is excited about its past year of service to the community and even more excited about what’s to come in 2022.
Last spring, Executive Director Khari Ryder took over as the Chamber’s executive director. Ryder focuses on what the Chamber can do for the Botetourt community through active engagement. He wants people to understand the Chamber is an entity that is ready to support local businesses and citizens through the Chamber’s resources.
“I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the businesses and civic organizations firsthand within the community and letting them know the Chamber is there as a support network to help better the businesses in Botetourt County,” Ryder said in a recent interview.
Ryder’s incredibly appreciative of their membership and the engagements he’s participated in since becoming the executive director.
“It’s just been wonderful,” Ryder continued. “Without Chamber staff members like Jennifer Vance and Lisa Otey that were here prior to me coming aboard, I don’t think the Chamber would’ve accomplished nearly as much.
Some of Ryder’s goals of his strategic plan that he set in August include strengthening partnerships and relationships with local businesses and members. Ryder firmly believes in “sharing the wealth” of knowledge the Chamber has in reaching out to other businesses in the Roanoke Valley. He hopes to have some companies outside of Botetourt get involved in Chamber events within the Botetourt community.
The Chamber again plans to hold another food management and safety training seminar this year. Additionally, the Chamber looks to once again work closely with some of Botetourt’s young professionals with events planned like networking events and conferences.
Ryder hopes to “broaden the scope” of the Chamber with civic organizations to give back to the community.
“We have really tried to make inroads into lesser-served areas like Eagle Rock and Buchanan,” Ryder added, “In my research, the smaller townships were very impactful from a business standpoint (years ago) began in those small towns (in Botetourt). Sawmills, steel mills, and canneries began in those small towns and had strong business impacts and still make up a strong part of Botetourt County.”
Ryder understands that many Chamber members’ representatives make up a large portion of the smaller towns. He hopes to reach out even more to those smaller areas and let them know they are supported.
Coming up, the Chamber looks forward to involvement in the “State of the County” event on January 28. It also plans to hold signature events like the golf tournament and dinner event for members later in the year. Additionally, the Chamber will roll out a new website in the coming weeks to provide members better opportunities to engage with the Chamber.
Currently, the Chamber wants to get back to the traditional “Chamber roots” like the “Coffee Connections,” “Lunch with the Chamber,” and cocktail hours for current and future members. The Chamber will post those events on its website’s event calendar in the coming weeks as Ryder looks forward to “a very active Chamber year.”
For more information about the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce, visit the website at business.botetourtchamber.com.