MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Chamber of Commerce has a mission to “develop, enhance and represent business; to serve as a source of community leadership; and to promote trade among the members.”
With 370 members and several well-developed programs and events, the Chamber’s mission thrives.
Its office, at 400 S. Gay St., is getting a new look inside. After initially leasing the old freight depot, the Chamber was able to purchase the building and they are adding new carpet and have painted some of the walls vibrant colors. The colors draw attention to the tongue and groove wood ceiling.
Through its efforts the Chamber of Commerce also strives to support the community in encouraging new business and industries which bring new taxable goods and services and create jobs.
One way the organization draws members together is with monthly Business After Hours gatherings. “It’s a nice opportunity for a business to showcase what they do,” said Carol Grubaugh, executive director. And the events are popular with the businesses as they share ideas in a relaxed, social atmosphere while learning about other member businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce also offers the Leadership Knox Class, a 10-month program beginning in August. Grubaugh said the classes encourage involvement in the organization and the community.
“We want to encourage them to be better leaders working toward making Knox County even better,” said Grubaugh. “People who were born and raised here come to me and say, ‘I can’t believe all of what I didn’t know about Knox County.’”
Each year’s class chooses a project and raises funds to enhance the community. Last year’s project was to install new batting cages at Memorial Park. In the past they have also refinished the Memorial Theater stage and performed park/trail clean-up.
In an effort to see businesses succeed, the Chamber offers links to business start-up information and services, sample business plans, and locations of available local business space. For example, last year they helped 8 Sisters Bakery find its new location in Mount Vernon.
The Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization and operating costs are funded through memberships and events. Lobby hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“The public perception of the Chamber is of a huge resource center. We find that very flattering,” said Grubaugh.