What's good for business is good for Richmond, and nobody knows this better than Mendi Goble, executive director of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
Mendi's only been in the position for two years, but she brings to it a wealth of experience, including 10 years as executive director of the Mount Sterling/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and stints as director of Leadership Madison County, a joint venture between the Richmond and Berea chambers, and as membership director of the Richmond Chamber.
She was born in San Angelo, Texas, but the family moved to Mount Sterling, Ky., where her father ran a home for children for 17 years, when she was in the third grade.
Married for 10 years to Jerry Goble, owner of Jerry Goble State Farm Insurance in Richmond, the couple moved to Richmond when Jerry bought the agency. He previously worked in human resources for Cooper Tire and Rubber Company.
With about 600 chamber members, it's difficult to keep everyone happy, but that's what the organization is going to focus on in the coming year.
"I want every member to feel chamber membership is beneficial to them, and I'm excited about working with our new board and where we're going," Mendi said. She explained the board will be focusing on finding out the needs and wants of the membership and how to fulfill them.
"If it doesn't benefit our membership, we're not going to do it," she said.
Already the chamber is providing a group health insurance plan for the membership and is participating in a program with Office Depot to give members access to discounted office supply purchases.
In spite of the down economy, Mendi sees a very bright future ahead for Richmond and its businesses, citing proximity to the Interstate, a solid infrastructure and amenities, such as Eastern Kentucky University within the city.
She said she enjoys her role of building bridges between the chamber and various other entities, including government and education, to create mutually beneficial relationships.
There's never a dull moment working at the chamber. The group held 42 ribbon cuttings last year alone, and there are about a half dozen active committees working on various projects and concerns.
The chamber is currently working on a "Think Richmond" program, designed to encourage local residents to do their shopping in the city by making them aware of the various opportunities that are right at home. A "Think Richmond" Web site is in the works.
There also are cooperative ventures, like Leadership Madison County, in which participants learn first hand about various aspects of the county, such as education and government by attending nine "hands-on" sessions. That program is a joint venture between the Richmond and Berea chambers.
There's also the Madison County Business and Education Partnership, which helps 16- to 18-year-olds prepare for the workforce by encouraging those who have dropped out of high school to get their GEDs, keeping the best and brightest in Madison County and enticing others who have left to return to join the workforce.
Mendi and Jerry live in their Richmond home with their five children from previous marriages. Jerry's include Connor, 13, and 12-year old twins Clay and Chase, and Mendi's include Taylor,17, and 14-year-old Tory.
Both Gobles are very active in their church, First Baptist, where Jerry teaches Sunday school and Mendi works with youth groups.
Mendi's parents operate a children's home in Guatemala, and the church has been instrumental in bringing the 14 girls who reside there to visit the United States.
by Frank Kourt
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