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As one of the oldest members of the Obion County Chamber of Commerce, I am honored to have been asked by Katie Keathley to share my thoughts about the benefits of Chamber membership.

As I explained to Katie, it has been a long time since I have been active in the work of the Chamber, so I will reflect on the benefits I enjoy as an ordinary Chamber member who is no longer in leadership.

Forty-three years ago when I migrated here with my family, we were welcomed with open arms and I believe that the same reception is extended to others who choose to make their homes in Obion County. That supportive influence resulted in my being asked to serve on the Chamber board many years ago, when the Chamber executive was James L. Rippy Sr. At that time we met in the former Old National Bank building on First Street during an era in which we enjoyed a healthy, stable business community. While we competed with other counties in Northwest Tennessee, we did not face some of the dire circumstances that the present leadership has had to guide us through. In short, we had it good.

I have watched successive leadership teams bring us through much more trying times. Often it has seemed to them and much of the community that we were on the ropes, but thanks to their persistence and clear direction they have brought us through our most recent difficulties and have positioned us for even greater success in the years ahead. Most members, myself included, know little of the tireless efforts that were necessary to land MIA Seating as a new business citizen and employer for our community. The confidential nature of the negotiations lend to lack of appreciation at the least and downright suspicion at the worst, but the outcome speaks loudly of the thoughtful and effective work that so many have undertaken on our behalf. This positions us for more "wins" in 2014 and in the years to come.

One current Chamber activity that I can promote from personal experience is the monthly Business Matters gathering that occurs on Tuesday mornings at the Obion County Public Library. Over the past several months, the Chamber leaders have presented many informative programs that make persons attending more aware of local opportunities we have to enhance our business climate. If you haven't attended one of these meetings, I encourage you to do so. The time required is not long and the benefits received make the investment well worth your while.

In closing, I commend our present board and staff for their effective work in promoting our business community. I encourage you to take time to get to know them and the good work they are about.

John L. Warner Jr. ("Jack's Dad")

Warner Law Firm