New Chamber director looks forward to ‘matchmaker’ role
Kim Bova is a business owner’s dream advocate.
A cellist with a passion for theater and for writing, she can be a creative person’s best friend.
If that weren’t enough, this midwesterner-turned-Connecticutian is also an avid hiker — someone who loves to explore the outdoors with her greyhounds.
“I’m comfortable wearing all the hats, it comes natural to me,” she said. “It’s how my brain is wired.”
Bova, the Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director, has helped build websites, plan events, map out social media strategy, and raise funds for local nonprofits.
She most recently worked as the marketing and communication director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and served as the director of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra during the 2017-18 school year.
“Music has always been a huge part of who I am,” Bova said. “I grew up playing the French horn and still play the cello in a local orchestra. It’s a very familiar world for me …
“I’ve also loved working with kids,” she added. “I taught language arts in Chicago at the middle school so when the opportunity came up with the youth orchestra I jumped at it.”
With the RSO, she was able to meet patrons, sponsors and donors.
She brings all her passions, and a wealth of experience, to her new job at the Chamber.
“If you have enough talent and enough determination, you can do anything,” she said.
Bova. “I think there’s so much opportunity for the chamber to grow and I can’t wait to steer it in that direction.”
She also brings a list of connections that she’s made over the last nine years living in town.
“I already know so many people associated with various the arts groups in town — whether it be RSO or ACT (A Contemporary Theater of Connecticut) or the Playhouse or the Theater Barn,” she said. “We have so much depth here when it comes to the arts. It’s really an embarrassment of riches. It’s just fantastic.”
She’s confident she can weld together Ridgefield’s small businesses and its nonprofits.
“I’m a matchmaker,” she said, “I always have been and that’s what makes me most excited about this job. I get to use my connections to address and support the individuals who run businesses in this town.”
Bova recognizes that not everybody’s needs are the same.
“There are small businesses, there are large business, and there are nonprofits — they’re all different,” she said, “but I truly believe everyone wins when businesses are connecting with other businesses and everybody’s on the same page. And that’s what I am going to do here at the Chamber: ensure owners know other owners and get them to work together to benefit one another. It can happen.”
Business-to-business relationships are important for local economics but Bova believes there’s another major factor: customer service.
“It must be out of this world to succeed in 2018 and in the future,” she said.
It’s something she believes Ridgefield already does well.
“You go into a Ridgefield Hardware or a Books on the Common — and I’m just naming two businesses because there are too many examples in our town — and you can’t help but ask yourself, ‘Amazon who?’ These places go above and beyond. Their service is immediate and their selections are immense.”
It’s not that Amazon doesn’t linger with every passing day.
“E-commerce is here, it’s not going anywhere,” Bova said. “But there’s no reason local businesses can’t do it and can’t do it well. You got to go with what Amazon can’t do and that goes back to customer service and building those one-on-one relationships.
“Customers will never be able to feel a connection with Amazon, no matter how hard they try,” she added. “You have to establish a place where the customer feels good walking in and is ready to get their happy on.”
‘They can’t compete’
In addition to her many passions and involvements in the community, Bova is a shopper at heart.
“There’s nothing that’s more fun than discovering those gems — a place that’s fun to be in, somewhere you can’t wait to go back to,” she said.
Ridgefield has plenty of them, and restaurants to pair them with.
“Our restaurants can’t be duplicated,” she said. “They all stand out and complement our business community.”
No matter what type of business, knowledge is essential.
“We have so many businesses that stand out because of their expertise to their crafts — whether its artisans or cobblers or bra makers, we have people here who bring value to their business by just being knowledgeable,” Bova said.
“Amazon,” she added, “they can’t compete.”
Dedication applied to individual talent equals a recipe for success.
“This is someone’s life; this is someone’s passion — it’s something worth getting excited about,” she said. “If they are excited with sharing that expertise with the customer, then they’re going to be successful. Online shopping is convenient but it’s not the same thing as walking into a store and finding someone waiting there for you. Someone who has all the answer and is ready to help you answer whatever question you might have…
“You can never get that type of shopping buzz online.”