Name: Katie Doherty

Age: 30

Title: President and chief executive officer

Organization: Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce

About: The chamber’s mission is to support the local economy and its members by attracting and retaining members, showcasing what central Maine offers, and hosting educational speakers and seminars.

Website: www.augustamaine.com

 

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

We have a range of members, from the sole proprietor to huge employers like MaineGeneral Healthcare and Central Maine Power. We have to make sure that what we have to offer is right for all of them, touching on every single business we have and making sure we’re meeting their needs.

Workforce is a big issue, so we look at what we can do to get people to come here and stay here.

We ask our members what they want. We do surveys for our Small Business Resource Team on topics people are interested in, like do you need to learn how to write a business plan. We have workshops, we bring in speakers on different levels. It could be a political or it could be a new president or CEO to talk about their business. It can’t always be on the same topic, and we make sure it touches the members. It’s fun and every day is different.

Who has been your biggest influence in business?

I don’t know if I have just one influencer. I was influenced by the way I was brought up by my parents, who owned their own business. (They are) Greg and Sandy Cormier, of the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Band and Festival. Growing up, I worked at the festival, seeing what you had to do to attract people. They came from all around the country and from Canada.

My parents were in the band too, so we traveled when I was growing up. I was brought up a little different. There was no summer camp with my friends. I was traveling with my parents, getting experience. I hung out with a lot of older people, so I am more of an old soul.

And I have had mentors along the way who you could call up and ask questions.

What’s your biggest concern?

Workforce. It’s trying to get here to see what we have. There’s so much going on here. We’re here at the capital, and you can drive two miles and there are lakes. We need to be marketing ourselves better and letting people know who is here.

We have manufacturing, healthcare, politics, breweries and you can start your own business.

Last year, we started the brewfest at Mill Park. We were wanting to attract younger adults to see all the great stuff we have. They can see the new shops we have downtown and check out the redevelopment and the brews we have available in the Kennebec Valley.

Where will you be in five years?

We are constantly changing with our members and the economy. The chamber used to be a place where you could come into the lobby and find brochures (on local businesses and attractions). That was the old model.

People don’t need that as much anymore. Marketing is important. I think the chamber is now more of a resource for the community as a whole, offering the different networking opportunities. We have changed our focus on how to be the best resources. We’re looking at what’s the best way to provide our m embers with education and help the economy.

The way society has changed, younger people are wondering what the chamber is. It’s not in the mentality of all people. We’re spreading awareness of what we are.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

I have always said: “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

If you know you are not good at something, find someone on your team who is good at it. Those people will feel empowered.

We have a great staff. We have fun. We do the job and we do it collectively. Just because something isn’t in your job description doesn’t mean you don’t do it. We’re doing anything and everything we can to help our members.

I’m open. I will always try anything once. I don’t think I know everything. I am willing to hear any idea, anything we can try.

I think you have to be open and not shut down, and listen to your employees.

And the chamber has a board (of directors), so I have have a whole board of resources that I can call on. We work collaboratively with the board; it’s a huge resource.

 

 

 


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