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Membership Director Spotlighted in TVA's - Young Professionals in Economic DevelopmentName: Lauren Tanner

Position/Organization/How long: Membership Director for the Obion County Chamber of Commerce since April 2016. We are located in Union City, Tennessee.

How did you get into economic development? Our Chamber of Commerce and Obion County Industrial Development Corporation (OCIDC) are umbrellaed underneath our Joint Economic Development Council (JEDC). Because of this, even though I am technically a chamber employee, I had the opportunity to dip my foot into economic development and have loved it since. There are only 2 paid employees within all 3 of those organizations (our CEO Lindsay Frilling and me), so I am fortunate enough to be involved in every side of Obion County.

What is the best economic development advice you've been given? You have to start earlier in the school systems if you want a strong, long lasting workforce. The main thing that I hear from professionals in our area is that outside of having the product (site ready properties, land, etc.) the biggest issue facing economic development in NW Tennessee is our workforce and lack thereof. Once people graduate high school, they move away to large cities and don't come back. It is vital that we start educating students earlier about economic development, workforce development, and ending the stigma that industrial jobs are "dirty". Students can get a technical degree or learn a trade, and have a full time, well-paying job sooner than most kids that go to a 4 year school. If we can teach our students sooner that there are more career options local and close to home, then maybe they will take advantage of our local technical colleges and implement their talents in our local industry, thus growing our overall population and workforce. There is nothing wrong with getting a 4 year degree, but there is nothing wrong with getting a technical degree either.

What has caught your attention recently in economic development? Economic development isn't just landing the big industrial projects, it's landing small businesses that bring life and uniqueness to your community. It's about making your community a personal experience for everyone that is there. Specifically where we are in Northwest TN, our young talent or "millennial" generation moves away from our area to larger areas after high school (i.e. Murfreesboro, Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville) and don't come back until they are ready to settle down, then they will move back to these smaller areas in their late 20's/early 30's. Because of this, we are having to think of creative ways to bring fresh, new ideas to our communities to make Obion County a desirable place for this generation to move to, move back to, or not even move away at all.

When you have free time, what do you do? I love to be outside. I got married about 2 months ago, so now that it's summer and we aren't planning a wedding anymore, we love to go out on the boat, hang with our pup, and spend time with friends and family.

What are three fun facts about you? 1) I have a degree in Agriculture Communications and did marketing/communications for the largest continuous John Deere dealership in the world prior to working at the Chamber. 2) I collect set lists. 3) I love sports. I'm a huge Cardinals baseball fan & UT fan. And also, I'm originally from Nashville, so can I get a Go Preds?!

What's on your bucket list these days? Go watch Tennessee play in the National Championship this year, but if that doesn't work out I'm good with watching them in December at the SEC Championship (a girl can dream, right? fingers crossed #GBO) Also, I'm hoping to cross a few more states off my bucket list within the next few years.

What motivates you? Passion. I adore my job, but let's be honest, you don't go into the chamber world for the money. You do it because you love it, you love your community, and you know what it can become if you put your passion to good use. I am originally from an interstate town, and with I-69 (which is on its way to completion) coming straight through Obion County, I know the growth that could potentially happen. I love Obion County the way it is, but knowing the potential it has to be even better keeps me going every day. I am ecstatic to see Obion County grow within the next 10 years and am lucky that I get to be a part of it.

The Sterling Awards 2017: 20 Most Influential Women in West Tennessee ceremony was held on April 4, Equal Pay Day, at the J. Walter Barnes Conference Center at Jackson General Hospital in Jackson, Tenn.

Receiving an award was Mrs. Jenny Kirkland of Union City, chosen as one of the 20 Most Influential Women in West Tennessee.

Mrs. Kirkland is known for her work through the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation, with involvement in The Union City Rotary Club Scholarship Program, the Union City Rotary Club European Trip, and The Promethean Foundation, serving on the board of directors.

Obion County Virtual Spec Building RecognizedBy Eli Dile

It has long been a common practice among economic development organizations to invest in speculative shell buildings as a business attraction tool. Spec buildings make a community more competitive in the site selection process by reducing the time and upfront costs for a company to get up and running in a new community.
But spec buildings don't come without risk. Capital is tied up in construction, and there's no guarantee a company will ever buy or lease it. Plus, constructing a building without a specific industry in mind can limit the range of potential end users, as many have specific facility requirements.

Discovery Park of America Discovery Children's Garden DPA opened a half-million dollar Children's Discovery Garden this past month!

The Robert and Jenny Kirkland Foundation funded the project that features a treehouse tower, zipline, butterfly garden and Rhapsody outdoor instruments

Legislative BreakfastWe had over 70 attendees at our Legislative Breakfast! Thank you to Obion Count Farm Bureau for sponsoring and providing our wonderful breakfast and for the Obion County Library for hosting us!

A special thanks to Representative Bill Sanderson and Senator John Stevens for updating our community on your time in Nashville!

Though we had a few scheduling issues with the golf tournament because of weather, we were able to have it Friday, May 12th! We had awesome teams, great door prizes, and a delicious meal! Thank you to all of our sponsors and congratulations to each of our winners! We are already looking forward to our tournament next year!

2016 Annual ReportBe on the lookout for your 2016 Annual Report! If you haven't received one, please stop by the chamber and we will be happy to give you one!

We would also like to recognize a few business that were cut out on the page where all of our members were listed. The following business are still members of the Obion County Chamber and we appreciate their business! Southern Concrete Products; Southern Logistics Group, LLC; Southern Machinery Repairs, INC; Star Physical Therapy; State Farm Agent Chris Williams; and Steve's Custom Jewelers.

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