Keeping up with Jones: New chamber boss starts today 


April 1. Barbi Jones takes over the reins of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce today. The first woman to head the 600-member organization says she will focus on members, stakeholders and their needs.

She was most recently the chief communications and engagement officer at United Way of Central Carolinas in Charlotte; before that she worked for Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus County and in marketing with a real estate firm.

Business Today asked her the following questions, as she starts Day 1 at the chamber:

What’s Job 1?

JONES: “Even though I’m from the community and know many of our members, I think it’s crucial for me to meet with members and stakeholders about their needs. We may be doing all the right things and offering all the programs, events and services that they need, but I suspect there are some new and different ideas that might be more compelling. I want to hear feedback from our members. And from those who may have left—why did they leave? What are we missing that they need? The staff and I are here to serve our members and our community, and to do that best, we need to know what their ideas are. To help with that, we’re sending an online survey out next week to our members to help gain knowledge and shape future plans.”

Why is the concept of a chamber still meaningful in 2016?

JONES: “I definitely think the Chamber is a relevant service to the business community today. Growing up, my family had a tire business, and I remember the challenges owning a business presented. Yes, technology has changed, but those challenges are still the same. The Chamber’s face-to-face connections and networks with folks facing the same challenges and issues are huge! Programs, services and events can offer solutions and opportunities that business owners can’t get elsewhere. As I said earlier, we just need to make sure we are meeting the most important and relevant needs of our members.”

I know you’ve barely started, but do you have a goal for membership at year-end?

JONES: “Quite honestly, I haven’t set a goal around number of members yet. I have always hated to think of numbers instead of people. Over the last few years, the Chambers’ membership numbers have fluctuated. I’m more concerned with our members’ experiences and satisfaction. My bigger goal is adding value to our membership where all of our members happily write a check each year, because they see themselves in the work we do and want to be a part of it. If we can do that, I think the numbers will take care of themselves.”

Jones is a long-time fixture in the world of non-profits and business in Cabarrus and more recently Charlotte. Before United Way, she worked for Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus County and in marketing with a real estate firm.

Jones replaces interim CEO Terry Crawford who was brought in when CEO Patrick Coughlin was terminated last year. Coughlin lasted almost two years in the position which had been filled by CEO John Cox for more than a decade.

She will have the new title of Executive Director. The chamber and the Economic Development Corp., which once operated under the same umbrella, have agreed to separate.

“Since we are separating from the EDC we felt this was more appropriate of a member-serving organization,” a long-time bard member said.

During its heyday—before a variety of challenges ranging from the textile industry collapse to the closing of the Philip Morris plant—the chamber had more than 1,300 members

RELATED: Cabarrus Chamber looks to sub-lease offices

“What set Barbi apart was her steadfast community-minded spirit. In her previous positions, she has demonstrated tremendous leadership and a can-do attitude that have produced amazing results reaching every corner of the community. When we interviewed her, it was apparent from the first moment that she was the one for this position.”

Right now there are around 600 members.

Jones said, “It’s going to be great to be home.” said Jones. Known for a team-oriented approach and her connections to the well-connected in Cabarrus and Charlotte, Jones is a “home run”for the chamber, Vaughn said.


No comments yet.

Post a Comment