Kokenge to Serve as Chamber Vice President
The Tea Chamber for Development elected officers in February. Linda Kokenge, Zooks Coffee Bar owner, was elected vice president. She joined the chamber when she opened her business in September 2022.
Prior to opening her business in Tea, she worked in business development for hospitals and was traveling all the time. During that time, she was involved with the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber. She noted that she has always been involved in things and joining the Tea Chamber for Development.
“I opened Zooks for the community. I really did it because I wanted to give something to the people in our community that was awesome and that we desperately needed,” she said.
Kokenge has lived in Tea for about 30 years. When Covid hit, she was grounded from her business development job.
“It made me slow down and realize I’m putting all of this energy in other communities and not my own. I had some time to think,” Kokenge said. “I don’t know anything about opening or running a coffee shop, but my background is marketing and business development. I did about 18 months of research. It just kept coming together. It’s been good. It’s been quite the journey.”
She and Andrea Kuipers, who was elected president, talked about becoming chamber leaders at the same time. They thought it would be good to do it together since they are both involved in a lot of things.
While they feel that the chamber is going in a great direction, Kokenge said they believe they should switch their focus.
“Andrea and I, however, believe we need to shift our focus a little bit and not so much on community events, but more on serving the small businesses in our area, so helping them with whatever they need help with and I don’t know exactly what that’s all going to be yet, whether it’s classes or just really building up the benefits of being a chamber member,” Kokenge said. “We have some now, which are great, but I believe there’s so much more that we can do to help the small businesses.”
At her business, she started a morning mingle for business owners every second Tuesday of the month. She noted that they are not recreating the shell, but rather taking things that have worked in other communities and making it work in Tea.
“I guess the biggest thing is the chamber members are going to see several changes coming through here in the next month or two. I don’t want to speak for Andrea but we’re super excited about the ideas that we have and what we’re going to bring to the businesses here and really help them grow and become stronger because that just makes us a better community,” Kokenge said.