By Aila Boyd
After going months without an executive director, the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors recently announced the hiring of Grant Holmes to fill the post.
The previous executive director, Sheri Winesett, vacated the position in December of 2018. She joined the chamber as executive director in July of 2017.
According to Mary Ann Miller, the president of the board of directors, Winesett “turned the chamber around and is a huge reason for all of its recent success. She increased revenue by over 50 percent, increased membership and attendance to regularly scheduled events, and so much more.”
Holmes’ experience, which he hopes to share with chamber members, includes extensive experience with business start-ups, ongoing operations and profitability, as well as marketing and brand positioning.
For the past 10 years, he has owned his own business. The business focuses heavily on marketing, positioning, and business development. He also had a high-end remodeling company.
In addition to running his own business, Holmes has actively worked to help local businesses, having served as the president of SCORE ROANOKE and a mentor through The Advancement Foundation.
He said that he has helped, to varying degrees, launch somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 companies.
“There’s nothing like owning your own business to learn about business,” he said.
Originally from Ohio, Holmes seized the opportunity to relocated to Virginia when a job prospect came up due to the fact that he prefers the Virginia climate over his native Ohio. After four years in the area, he ended up moving to Florida for a year and a half. While there, he once again found that he preferred the Virginia climate, so he migrated north back to Virginia. Because of the mild weather, he frequently takes his touring motorcycle out for a spin.
In addition to the climate, Holmes said that he was also attracted to the area because of its vibrant ballroom dance community. “When I moved here, I knew I wanted to learn how to ballroom dance,” Holmes said. “I love the mental challenge of ballroom dancing. It’s so elegant and classy.”
Holmes holds an undergraduate degree from Malone University in Ohio.
The executive director position “intrigued” him, Holmes explained, due to the fact that Botetourt County is “primed for explosive growth.”
Going forward, Holmes said that he will primarily serve as a “connector” for local businesses, meaning that he will connect businesses to appropriate partners and resources. He said that he will be using his skillset, which he describes as being a “perfect fit” for the position, to teach business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs how to network, as well as basis business skills.
As he settles into the position, he said he will be working to familiarize himself with local businesses and business leaders.
“With area growth exploding, this is a great time for the chamber to capitalize on the business opportunities throughout Botetourt,” said Holmes. “There is an excitement that you can feel. I look forward to working with various county agencies and area businesses to help wherever the chamber can assist.”
When considering some of the business-related challenges that the county faces, Holmes specifically mentioned housing and transportation. “We’re a growing area. To feed the growth, we need people on the ground in affordable housing,” he said.
He added that although announcements that new big businesses will be locating in the county are exciting, people shouldn’t overlook small businesses because the owners and operators of those business are dedicated to their work. Those business are seeing growth as well, he said.
Given that the chamber has been without an executive director for some time, Holmes stressed that he wants people to know that it’s “back in business” and that it’s “not going anywhere.”
Members, he said, are in store for some “awesome and constant” network opportunities. Some of the “dormant” programs that the chamber offered in the past, such as the Lunch and Learn series, will be brought back. He added that he’s working on developing new programs as well.
“I want to give businesses what they need to grow,” Holmes said of his objective for the programming that he’s working on.
The chamber will be holding its Annual Meeting of the Membership on June 27, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Ballast Point in the Sculpin Room. The event is sponsored by Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and Botetourt County. Registration is $20 for members, $30 for non-members and includes one drink ticket and appetizers. Visit www.botetourtchamber.com to sign up or call 473-8280 for more information.