Describing the job we do daily as an abundant opportunity is perhaps the largest understatement ever written. What Shantel Crabtree and myself are blessed to encounter each and every day is heritage, skill, struggles, endurance and future. Our phones ring at the Chamber of Commerce office multiple times daily with questions as simples as…Who do I call to set up a booth at a festival…to what are the laws about businesses allowing customers to use restroom facilities….or questions pertaining to zoning, land, traffic counts and utilities to help a developer make that final decision on a land purchase.
Our day, every day, is spent researching to provide information requested or connect with someone specialized to help. I have often defined us as a mere switchboard for Scott County, with our goal being to connect two partners together to resolve the issue defined. But somehow, that doesn’t really capture what we do. So, I decided to shadow the Scott County Chamber of Commerce & Industrial Development Board. Let me caution you as you read this, no week, day, is ever the same at our office, but this can tickle your thoughts with the everyday role shifting we have the privilege of encountering.
It’s Monday morning and the day begins about 7:00a.m. Like most mornings the phone starts ringing, text messages arrive or notifications on social media awaiting a response. Yes, social media. It is a daily routine to scan social media to find the mood, concerns, celebrations/losses of this place we call home and the people who are part of it. Some days, that simple scan sets a to do list for our office…thank you cards, letters or notes of encouragement, ideas for programs needed or simple celebration. It has become an essential part of staying connected to our community.
The travel to the office for me, although only about a 20 minute drive, can at times take about an hour.Stops along the way to save precious time later, turn into concerned business owners asking for a moment to share a thought or issue. I take advantage of this because I love talking about Scott County and I try to never miss a chance to get people excited about the positive things taking place here. I once asked my Board of Directors if they felt it important, all those stops and just chit chat about a community overcoming. They smiled, reminding me, they were in the group of those who I encountered on my way to the Visitor Center.
At the office, Shantel is there bright and early handling the flood of calls, emails, and visitors. She is amazing with our visitors. They come in for one questions and it is not uncommon to hear them still chatting with her twenty minutes later. She has a way to draw them in with her kindness and smile; families, couples, groups just don’t want to leave. I sometimes just sit and listen to her with them, whether it is on the phone or in person, she astounds me. She sells our community and the local businesses in a fashion that is fun and leaves them searching for even more to do in this great place.
As Shantel works her magic downstairs, I begin the responses to commercial developers, site selectors, and county leaders, follow-ups with planners for future industrial sites. One returned call always leads to a new door for another company. I sit amazed at the grace of a well orchestrated happening that leads us into the best success we encounter. Rarely ever do they start off planned, but after hours of listening, questioning and searching, a new opportunity for one of our great businesses/industries/organizations emerges. Schedules for Chamber meetings, Local Emergency Planning Meetings, mayor meetings, state meetings, all swirl around our calendar upstairs while Shantel, downstairs, is keeping it all in place, making sure that we have the material needed for each event or meeting. Did I tell you she was amazing?
It seems like the morning has just started when we realize, it is past lunch. Grabbing a bite at our desks, I am scanning a magazine opportunity for advertising our community, and Shantel sneaking a sandwich in between tourists. The afternoon quickly arrives with an Industry tour and I won’t lie, those are my favorite. I leave the Visitor Center bustling with activity in great care and go to be fascinated by what Scott County is contributing to the world. I won’t lie; those industry tours give me goose-bumps. It is so exciting looking at the products being invented, manufactured and shipped around the world that is made right here in Scott County, TN. Leaving with a huge smile, an excited outlook for our future, I head back to the office for yet, another meeting.
After several more small conversations about local lending opportunities for small businesses, meetings on ways to save on utility costs for industries, and planning for the Christmas Parade, Shantel and I decide to call it a day. The ride home is filled with a call with updates from Nashville, a few more messages on social media about events or job opportunities and a smile on my face, thinking today, was a good day for Scott County. The driveway to home appears and precious time with family before bed and a brand new day of adventures to tackle. I’ll asleep thinking, what will tomorrow be like at the office? I hope just like today, but a thousand times better for the best county in the state….SCOTT.