Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cabot chamber names new top executive

Leader staff writer

For Cabot resident Kelly Coughlin it is a homecoming. “My heart has always been in Cabot, and now I’m getting paid for doing something I love,” she said.

That love is being named the new executive director of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce.

She succeeds Billye Everett, who retired after seven years at the helm.

Coughlin has been the economic development director for the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce for the past two years.

She is credited with helping to bring in an airline cabinet company, two national-chain restaurants — investments worth about $6 million and 250 jobs — into Sherwood.

Cabot chamber board president Karen Madding said the board is confident that Coughlin “will bring her successful previous economic development and chamber experience to our chamber, benefiting the Cabot business community.”

“She is known for her tremendous work ethic, creating non-profits and for her strong advocacy skills,” Madding said.

Coughlin grew up in Cabot, and, before taking the Sherwood position, she co-founded the Lonoke County Christian Clinic and the Lonoke leadership program. She was also instrumental in opening the farmer’s market.

In her new role, Coughlin said, “I’m coming in to help in any way I can. Billye did a great job and I’ll try to fill her shoes while bringing in a different twist or outlook.”

She has nine years of experience successfully managing development programs in the public sector and nonprofit settings, according to Madding. “Kelly has experience in all facets of marketing and business development. Kelly has provided effective, proprietary solutions on how to bring in new business. She has proven to be a skilled team-builder, focusing on managing executive relationships, responsiveness to client needs, as well as strategy and development of partnership environments,” Madding said.

The mother of two — a 19-year-old at ASU-Jonesboro and a 13-year-old at Cabot Junior High North — says one thing on her agenda already is to expand the reach of the Cabot chamber to include more out-of-town businesses.

Coughlin said she has some new ideas for the chamber. “But we will take it slow.”

Coughlin also plans to use what she learned as the economic director for Sherwood to bring more business and growth to Cabot.

“Our schools are a big plus here,” she said. “The school spirit is special. You won’t find it anywhere else.”

The board president said, “We are confident that her energy and creativity will further strengthen our membership and engage even more Cabot businesses in helping to make our city successful. The Cabot Chamber Board of Directors is extremely pleased to have Coughlin taking the helm.”

Coughlin received her Associate of Arts degree from Canada College in Redwood City, Calif., in 1992.

She completed her degree program at San Francisco State University in 1998, with a concentration in industrial communication and graphic design.