• Elaine Spalding
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 5, 2014
Halfway through her first year as president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, Elaine Spalding has brought new energy and enthusiasm to the organization.
She regularly draws a large crowd to the chamber’s new monthly breakfasts and has turned the group’s typically staid annual meeting into a gala hosted by a comedy improv group.
Spalding, who came to Rowan after turning around the chamber in Paducah, Ky., wants to find ways to encourage local entrepreneurs, including a “Shark Tank”-like program where people with business ideas would compete for funding from local angel investors.
Big into partnerships, Spalding has forged new relationships between the chamber and the Economic Development Commission and Convention and Visitors Bureau. She and her husband, watercolor artist Keyth Kahrs, live in a house in the West Square near downtown Salisbury.
Job title: president of Rowan County Chamber of Commerce
If you won millions in the lottery, what would you do?: “I would give lots to family and friends and lots to my favorite charities and save a little for my husband and I to travel around the world.”
Favorite TV show?: With a journalism background, Spalding chose “CBS Sunday Morning” because it offers more in-depth stories about arts and culture than other news programs.
Who should play you in a movie?: Katharine Hepburn
What would you choose for your last meal?: Scallops. Nothing else, just scallops.
Who will you watch in 2014?: “My boss, Mark Seifel.” As chairman of the chamber board, Seifel thinks strategically and “asks the best questions,” Spalding said.
Biggest challenge in 2014?: Meeting the expectations of the business community for accomplishments during her first year.
Biggest hope for 2014?: Improved partnerships and communication. “Everyone is really looking forward to having a much more positive dialogue and a shared vision with the right leaders.”
Reaction to making the list?: “Humbled and honored.”
— Emily Ford