Photo courtesy of The Chamber.
By Katie Bohannon, news editor
As the new year rolls on, the Gadsden and Etowah County Chamber welcomes an established and influential figure from the community to its team. Recent President and CEO-elect Christi Robinson expresses immense gratitude for being granted this opportunity, detailing her passion to propel Etowah County forward in the days ahead.
Robinson (pictured right) follows the leadership of former Heat-ther Brothers New President and CEO, who has served the House since 2011. Born and raised in Etowah County, Robinson is a graduate of Sardis High School before continuing his education with an Associate of Commerce degree. Administration of Snead State Community College. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Jacksonville State University before her innate love for learning sparked her desire to return to school once more, attending Birmingham School of Law in 2016. Although Robinson moved to Birmingham briefly after a job opportunity, her relationship with the people of Etowah County – which she considers the heart of the community – inspired her to return, retaining years of commitment and an incredible footprint in his hometown.
Innovative entrepreneurship is a legacy for Robinson, who inherited his father’s business nature. Growing up in the entrepreneurial sphere, Robinson watched his father and uncle run a business for 40 years. She translated a childhood enriched by an appreciation for advancement and small business into a partnership with her husband, Chris. Chris and Robinson own and operate the beloved local restaurants Blackstone Pub & Eatery on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden and Blackstone Pizza Kitchen, which adjoins Noccalula Falls. The Robinsons recently teamed up with Jason and Jessica Wilson to launch another exciting venture, opening Current Market & Deli at River Rocks Landing in Gadsden.
“I think my love for business, number one, inspired me to apply for the job at The Chamber,” said Robinson, who leaves 13 years at the Alabama Teachers Credit Union to write this new chapter. “Heating [New] did a great job with The Chamber. I am hopeful and confident that I will be able to move The Chamber forward in something brand new that has never been done before – not just for The Chamber, but for Etowah County as a whole. The Chamber is here to defend the interests of business and that is what I will do. This position spoke to my soul, so I wanted to give it a shot. I am very grateful to have been chosen.
Robinson’s experience as a small business owner for just over two decades gives him valuable insight into what local businesses need to be successful. She understands that all businesses – and all improvement action plans – are personalized and differ based on what’s best for owners, employees and customers. His roles at the credit union, from his work in the lending industry to his most recent position as a fraud specialist, have broadened his professional experience in connecting with people and building strong relationships. Whether meeting new people or collaborating with established colleagues, Robinson’s natural communication skills allow her to determine what individuals and companies deem important and how she can help them achieve their goals.
As an active and influential member of the Etowah County community, serving on numerous boards in the past and coordinating several fundraisers, Robinson’s extensive knowledge of nonprofit organizations adds another element to her role as President and CEO of the Chamber.
“[As Chamber President & CEO] I can stay in the nonprofit world, which is where my heart is,” Robinson said, discussing what inspires her to stay involved with so many organizations dedicated to the betterment of the community. “Sometimes it’s the leadership of these organizations, sometimes it’s their mission, but if I got involved it was because it touched me in some way. When you know why an agency is doing the work, you can really support them. »
In addition to his extensive business and nonprofit knowledge, Robinson takes on the challenge of learning the operations of the Chamber and recognizing its vital efforts throughout the community. Robinson assisted with Chamber programming prior to her role as President and CEO, contributing to both Leadership Etowah and the Student Leadership Council. She shared that over the months, the House staff has proven to be phenomenal – a patient, helpful and caring team of caring people who work alongside her to elevate and move the county forward. Robison considers her colleagues one of her favorite aspects of her position, alongside the opportunity she cherishes to learn and grow, giving her the opportunity to foster this same beneficial education in others.
As the Chamber finalizes its existing strategic plan, Robinson shared that future goals for the Chamber include assessing the community to determine the direction businesses and members hope to take over the next five years. She highlighted exciting developments ahead for 2022, including an Entrepreneur Fair for fifth-graders that introduces them to the rewarding reality of business ownership, and a CEO Roundtable where leaders will assess the barriers they face. face and the successes they achieve.
“The services produced by the Chamber are invaluable,” Robinson said. “They teach so much and they connect customers to businesses in a way I’ve never seen. I really think the members of The Chamber are of tremendous value. There are strong ties between the companies, either through the services provided or through the lasting friendships created from those ties. The spirit of entrepreneurship in Etowah County – and all of these small businesses working together to ensure Etowah County not only continues, but thrives – is incredibly inspiring.
Robinson fosters an ultimate vision for The Chamber, collaborating with like-minded people who share his determined commitment and proven leadership. Its greatest achievement is that all businesses in Etowah County recognize the invaluable programs available at their fingertips and unite with the Chamber’s mission to better its community. While Robinson’s innovative approach and passionate nature reflect the single-minded character that flourishes throughout her household, she strives to manifest greater feats for her fellow citizens and business owners. As she and the staff of The Chamber work diligently towards a brighter future, Robinson reflects on one unshakeable truth that defines her past – her most treasured achievement will always align with the relationships she forms and the friendships she she cherishes.
“There is nothing more precious to me than these relationships,” Robinson said. “In this new role, I am looking for feedback, ideas and partnerships. I am very grateful and very excited to be part of this process – to develop a plan that will move us all forward.