The Covington Chamber of Commerce has a new woman in charge.
Loray Rainwater, who grew up in the area and is a graduate of Enumclaw High, started with the chamber as president and CEO last Thursday.
Rainwater is excited to help the chamber grow and develop a stronger voice representing its members both in local government and the community.
“The chamber of commerce is the perfect platform for me to bring all my background and experience,” she said. “It also allows me to participate and be involved in the community I work in.”
She brings a diverse business background including 12 years working in retail and corporate with Bartell’s Drug where among her roles was she worked in human relations.
Following that, Rainwater moved back to Enumclaw in 2001 after living in the Seattle area, looking for work.
“I moved to Enumclaw shortly after the 9/11 incident,” she said. “Nobody was hiring.”
She did land a job selling cars at Gamblin. After a year and a half there she got a job tip that pointed her an different direction.
“The gentleman who was doing my advertising, he was retiring, and he suggested I get into sales and marketing at the newspaper,” she said. “Hence started my education in sales and marketing.”
Rainwater started with the Enumclaw Courier-Herald — which is now part of Sound Publishing, the company that owns the Reporter — in 2003.
“Being at the newspaper is what got me interested in getting involved in the community,” she said. “It was very educational for me, not only in sales and marketing, but also in community involvement.”
She later went to the Federal Way Mirror, another Sound Publishing newspaper, where she met Jack Doby, whom she helped with his business Blue Water Wireless.
“I helped them out with their marketing as they got started at their Federal Way store,” she said. “It’s a great concept. They just needed a little help in how to market it and grow the business.”
And then the position at the Covington Chamber of Commerce opened up recently. It seemed right up her alley.
“Bill Marcum (publisher of the Reporter), he gave me the heads up on the position, because he knew I had applied for this position with a couple other chambers,” she said. “I think I can really help to bring a common vision to this chamber … and be an effective advocate for the business professionals in Covington.”
Rainwater has some critical short terms goals.
“One of the first things is to bring back the confidence in the chamber,” she said. “The first goal is to beef up membership. One of the other goals is to give members greater networking opportunities.”
Increasing membership gives the chamber as a whole more clout as well as “a greater voice” with local government.
Another priority for Rainwater is to get to know the community.
“In the next few months I’ll be doing a lot of footwork,” she said. “I plan to put out a survey to find out what the businesses want, need and would like to see.”
And even though she’s only been on the job a few days, Rainwater has already begun working with staff at Covington City Hall, having met with Community Development Director David Nemens and Economic Development Manager Shalini Bansal on her first day.
“I’m sure we’ll be working closely with them in the coming months,” Rainwater said.
When she’s not at work, Rainwater is active with her church in Seattle, where she serves as the praise and worship leader. She also does motivational speaking engagements.
“I have a special interest in helping women realize their self worth,” she said.
Rainwater has three children, Richard, 21, Travis, 18 and 11-year-old Jessica.
A new pastime for her and Jessica is a 5-year-old horse named Sweetie, who had been a race horse, but was retired due to shin splints, then saved when her original owners considered putting her down.
Rainwater is boarding the horse in Enumclaw, where she still lives, and has ridden Sweetie once thus far.
“I was involved with showing horses as a kid,” she said. “Now I can get my daughter involved and teach her how to ride.”
But work is never far from her mind as she’s reading up lately on the health care bill currently under consideration by Congress. Rainwater is keeping an eye on it with the idea that she wants to understand how it might effect the elderly as well as the business community.
As she gets a little more time under her belt with the chamber Rainwater said people should expect big things.
“I’m definitely going to bring in some exciting changes,” she said. “I want the people of Covington to feel like if they’re not connected to the chamber, they’re not connected.”