By Matt de Simone
Last March, the Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce announced Khari Kyder as its new Executive Director.
“Botetourt’s been very supportive,” Ryder stated in a recent interview. “The community has seemed to be very engaged, but I think it’s give and take for every bit that I give the community is engaged just as much back.”
Ryder’s focus is 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.
Several members of the community were integral bringing in Ryder. He mentioned the support of Board of Supervisors representative and current Board Vice President Amy White and the Chamber’s former interim Executive Director Keith Hartman during the transition. Ryder said he continues to bounce ideas off of his predecessors.
Ryder understands that farms are businesses too. He started out his professional career as a horse trainer. His fascination with horses started at an early age and stayed with him through his college years. His equestrian knowledge and his understanding of agriculture’s importance in a community like Botetourt County helped to bring Ryder into his new position with the Chamber.
Former Chamber Board President Trevor Winter Pierce of Winter Storage is another community member Ryder commends for support and guidance in Ryder’s first year as Executive Director.
“Winter’s Storage has been a huge supporter of the Chamber,” Ryder said. “They have been a legacy in a way. Trevor’s father, Scott Winter, was also a Board President in the past.”
He also thanked current Board President Kaleigh Duffy on providing youthful exuberance into the board of directors which Ryder feels will help the board further into the future.
Ryder enjoys engaging with some of Botetourt’s smaller businesses like Cupcakes & Canines in Daleville and The Reserve in Fincastle. He feels growing relationships with the community’s small business owners has benefited him as he continues to chart his path throughout the area.
Moving forward, Ryder wants to drive the Chamber to support the county while developing a symbiotic relationship with the local business owners that will continue putting money back into the community.
“Many of the individual businessowners live in the community—they employ people from the community,” Ryder continued. “Those tax dollars go back into the county which help to support the community. We have a foundation in process that can allow us through our memberships and sponsorships to give back to the community through scholarships and other philanthropic endeavors.”
Ryder’s not focused on simply going out into the community, holding a networking event to see “who’s doing what.” He wants to be supportive in the sense of offering the community services like marketing reviews or business plan reviews in good faith, conscience, and knowledge to better businessowners adjusting to their new models or ideas.
The Chamber is a functional support service for local businesses. Ryder wants members to know they’ll receive a tangible return and, ultimately, that’s the main direction of the Chamber under his direction.
Ryder understands his ideas will keep the Chamber busy, but he wants members to feel like their investing in the Chamber and their resources more so than simply paying dues.
“I want this Chamber to ensure a return on these investments and I think that’s kind of a new paradigm shift that many chambers are going through right now,” Ryder added. “Some aren’t and are sticking with the tried and true, but those that truly see a way of maintaining relevance are going in the direction I’m trying to take this Chamber.”