By Nick Worth
Holbrook native Kathleen Smith has taken over as the new Chamber of Commerce Director after a sojourn away from the area for the past 18 years.
“I was born and raised in Holbrook,” said Smith, who answered to Kathleen Gardner before her marriage to her husband David Smith. She lived in Holbrook and graduated from Northland Pioneer College, and at age 21 moved to Flagstaff for a brief time before locating in the Valley for 18 years.
“I was a stay-at-home mom,” Smith said. “That and I also ran our contracting company.” She noted that David started out as a framing contractor. Then, when the economy took a downturn, he switched to general contracting.
Smith was busy running the business and raising their three children, twins Ashley and Courtney, and 9-year-old Kaleb. The twins will be seniors this year.
Despite being busy, Smith still found time to return to Arizona State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in Non-Profit Leadership and Management. She also obtained her national certification from the Non-Profit Leadership Alliance.
As for her plans for the chamber, Smith has several ideas.
“At this point, starting fresh again, I want to ask our members, ‘What can the chamber do for you?’” said Smith. “I’d like the businesses to think of the chamber first when they need something.”
She said she is looking forward to working “hand in hand” with the local Small Business Administration representatives and is working on hosting a series of “Lunch and Learns,” exploring topics such as how to use social media to grow your business.
Smith said the chamber will also be investigating business topics, such as “What are the most beneficial ads?”
“I want to be a resource for the community,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the possibility of the potash mines coming to the area gives the chamber the opportunity to help local businesses grow and change.
“Tourism and special events are a priority to bring in our local businesses as vendors,” Smith said. “With tourism, we want to start out slowly and build it up for different target audiences.”
She mentioned Holbrook’s Wild West Days, set for July 12 and 13 this year.
“This now is a qualifying event on the professional barbeque circuit,” Smith noted. She said the Bucket of Blood half-marathon and fun run brings in a lot of runners, and the car show, junior rodeo, stock show and the re-enactment of the Owens-Blevins gunfight all bring in other target audiences.
Other events like Fall Into Fun, Taste of Fall and the Christmas Parade of Lights are also part of the equation.
“All the events are growing and we want to take them to the next level,” Smith said. “We’ll also be adding more children’s events this year.”
In everything she undertakes for the chamber, though, Smith said she’s going to keep an eye on the bot-tom line.
“I’m cautious of where we spend our money,” Smith said. “Non-profits have a fiduciary responsibility to spend donations wisely.”
Smith also welcomes suggestions and ideas for things the chamber can do for its members and the community. She can be reached at the Chamber of Commerce office in Holbrook City Hall at (928) 524-6225.
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By Nick Worth