With just over a year as the executive director for the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce, it all comes down to business for Katherine Koch.
“I’m always working on memberships, and that’s really the mainstay of the Chamber of Commerce, it’s members and proving to them, year after year what the value of the chamber membership is,” said Koch.
Her first introduction to the chamber was as an assistant creative director 12 years ago. Koch fell in love with the job and now you will find her hosting networking events, doing exclusive referrals, and supporting and promoting Marblehead businesses to help them thrive and improve revenue.
“Being in the executive director’s role is a big responsibility,” Koch said. “It feels really good to do this work for our town.”
Born and raised in Marblehead, Koch grew up working in retail at Arnould Gallery and since then has “loved the small-town community vibe” that Marblehead has to offer.
With more than 200 members enrolled in the chamber, Koch’s role is to help Marblehead businesses thrive and transform the town into a top destination for visitors.
“We are very much a destination town. We have beautiful beaches; we are one of those must-see spots on the North Shore,” said Koch.
The Marblehead Chamber of Commerce promotes the town with the goal of having people visit, stay, dine, and enjoy their time in town, which in turn promotes the business community.
“If you are here for a wedding, you are going to check out the local sites and shops and get some things to take home, whether its souvenirs or maybe you make relationships with store owners that you meet,” said Koch.
“It’s a fantastic way to showcase the town through tourism. Tourism is huge for us. We also rely on our year-round local and visiting shoppers and visitors,” she added.
The chamber has great working relations with nonprofits such as the Marblehead Arts Association and the Marblehead Museum, and is always interested in partnerships that help keep the town as a destination spotlight on the map and bring in outside revenue to keep Marblehead consumer-based.
“A great incentive is trying to get people outside of the area, more than 50 miles away,” Koch said. “We want to be a regional destination. And a lot goes into promoting ourselves to be that destination along the North Shore to people further away, maybe out of state.”
For businesses to thrive in Marblehead, Koch recommends owners understand the services they are offering and what their demographic is. Do you need to have a storefront? Can you operate remotely? Are you mostly a referral-based business?
In addition to supporting local businesses, Koch is involved in community events like the Christmas walk, trick-or-treating around town, and the indoor and outdoor sidewalk sale.
Promoting and highlighting businesses while bringing family and community together are part of Marblehead’s culture, which is exactly what Koch exemplifies in her work.