Mt. Juliet Chamber Blogs

Keep up with everything going on at the Mt. Juliet Chamber!

What is MJYP?

It’s been almost two years since the idea came up about starting an organization for young professionals within this community. These groups exist in other areas and have had success connecting like-minded individuals. So, why shouldn’t we have one in our community as well? To answer that question, we should!


It seems as if the over forty demographic is the most visible in our professional community. However, young professionals are on the rise and this group is growing more and more every day. This is why we are taking a “do-over” to get the Mt. Juliet Young Professionals mobilized once again.


What is a Young Professional? A YP is someone in their twenties or thirties who has a desire to have a positive impact on our community. You may be from Mt. Juliet, live in Mt. Juliet, work in Mt. Juliet, play in Mt. Juliet, shop in Mt. Juliet, worship in Mt. Juliet, or all of the above.


As an extension of the Mt. Juliet/West Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, it is our mission to develop individuals both personally and professionally while maintaining a focus on connecting the opportunities and needs of our community with local resources. This means that we strive to help people that have the time, energy, and resources to connect with the people who need those resources.


It’s also our goal to provide opportunities to connect young professionals. On Saturday, October 19th from 11:00am-1:00pm, the MJYP has planned a potluck picnic at Charlie Daniels Park. Bring your family, a dish to share, and meet some great folks. We hope to see you there!  


If you have questions about this group, please contact me at 547-5502 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Sean White


2013 Board Chair


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What’s In It For Us?

I recently attended an Annual Meeting with my peers from all across the state of Tennessee. Other than a meeting each year in March with all the State Legislators, it’s about the only time each year that those of us in the Chamber world get to personally network, share best practices, and tell a little about what is happening in our part of the state.

At this particular conference the keynote speaker was one of the most well respected chamber consultants – speaker guys in the business. His name was Pat McGaughey. After many, many years in the business and after getting to travel the entire county working with Chambers of Commerce he shared a thought that I happen to share wholeheartedly. He said that a Chamber is an “us” organization and that the most successful Chambers are those that are able to convey the message and be known as an “us” Chamber. There really is no room for the “what’s in it for me” mentality in a well-run Chamber since our very existence is determined by how we all work together. Businesses that work well with others are often the most successful. Some refer to this as “an all boats rising with the tide” philosophy. Those that financially invest in the Chamber know not to join on Wednesday morning and expect folks to start calling them on Wednesday afternoon. These businesses are investing in the future of the community and in the hopes that together we can accomplish great things that none of us could accomplish on our own.

If you think about it; that is exactly how it works. We cannot sell the community as a great place to live, if the schools are not are not top notch. We can have the best school system around; but if we have a high crime rate no one will want to move here. If retail and office space is very cheap but there are no customers or available employees what’s the use of opening a shop. You get the idea; there is tremendous inter-connectivity and reliance on others doing their best as well. And, (and this is a BIG “and”) the community can make a difference by supporting those local businesses that call our community home. Folks, we need your support! Right about now you may be asking yourself, “what if I do want to shop local but have no idea what all is out there and can I really find what I am looking for right here”? Well I am glad you asked. There are hundreds of great local businesses, right at your fingertips waiting to serve you! You can check them out 24/7 at Won’t you please help make sure it really is all about us?

Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Where’s the Beef?

If you have been around a while, I’m guessing maybe the late 70’s or early 80’s, you probably remember that very popular television commercial from a competitor of McDonald’s which asked that very simple question. Along with that one there was another competitor telling folks that square fish don’t swim. These were very much directed at the world’s largest fast food chain and the company that was putting bread on my table at that time in my life. As crazy as it may sound, to me they were very personal.

The message of bashing my employer really irritated me at the time. I wondered why we did not go out and pick on them the way they were picking on us. Luckily I had some wise bosses (Dave, Pat, Mel, Tom, Ray, Linda, and Terry to name a few) that taught me a lifelong message that to this day I try to use in everything I do. What they taught me was that all of our efforts were purposely and consistently being used to tell our customers about the good things we were doing, not the bad things that our competitors were doing.

If you remember the commercials I am referring to, then you probably also remember the steady stream of award winning commercials that McDonald’s used to touch our emotions in a positive way; some even had nothing to do with our menu items. I find this to be a tried and true way to do business and in the treatment of those around me. As a community I happen to feel like this lesson is also applicable. Many of us absolutely love our community and most hope we never have to leave. We have planted our stake here and to use a little poker term “we are all in”. I find it very refreshing when folks talk about why they love our community, rather than what they don’t like about some of those around us.

We can certainly learn from some of the neighboring communities (or even some very far away) about how to avoid making short term decisions that might have a negative impact in the long term and such. But to me there is a difference between that and just taking a broad swipe at entire communities and using words like them and they. If I had to guess, I would imagine that “those” communities are also full of honest, hardworking, and nice people too. It’s fair to say that they love their community as much as we love ours. Perhaps those that came before them made some unwise decisions that now make it look as though they are playing with a 7-2 off-suit and we feel like we are holding pocket aces. My thought is simply that we stay on point and proudly promote our community.

We have a wonderful message to share and if we do that I am positive that we will make those that follow us very proud. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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The Loss of Our Friend…

This is a very sad day for our community. For the last 35 years Garr’s has been a tremendous corporate citizen and a friend to all. Garr’s holds a special place in my heart as being the business where I made my first purchase upon moving into this city over 25 years ago. On the day I moved in I went to Garr’s to buy one of those curvy stakes you put into the ground to attach the dog leash to. Somehow the ones we had did not make it onto the moving truck. Personally, Garr’s has been there for me since day one.

Since that time and over the course of many, many years Garr’s has come to represent all that is so special about a locally owned and operated small business. The impact that this business has had on nearly every non-profit organization, school, church, and community event is immeasurable. Roy and his staff would gladly put our promotional messages on the board out front, donate items to our charity auctions, and provide his equipment for those bigger projects. Thanks to Garr’s, our community is dotted with more Purple Martin Houses than one can count and hundreds of children and their families are now professional “Scarecrow” makers having attended their annual Fall event at the store. Each year at Christmas time, Garr’s proudly erected (and put on display lining their rooftop for all to enjoy), a giant nativity scene for thousands to see during the Christmas Holidays.

Over the years countless young boys and girls, Scouts, Church and Civic Organizations, and many others were able to take a field trip and enjoy seeing baby chicks, birds, and other animals right in the middle of the store. There was usually a family of ducks or geese that called the large pond in front of the store home. One could even make the case that Garr’s was one of the original “big boxes” as they seemed to have about everything we needed. Garr’s was one of those places you could visit even if you really did not need anything. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to the feed store I remember while growing up in Bluffton, Indiana. It’s where I would go with my father and grandfather, the kind of place where the men could sit around, and maybe drink an orange pop (ice cold and in a bottle for about 5 cents!) from an old self-serve ice box. I even remember climbing up on a big bag of oats or something like that so I could be in the middle of the conversation.

Yes, this is a very sad day indeed. Gone? Perhaps, but in no way will they be forgotten. Just like my memories from many, many years ago, Mt Juliet is full of people who will also have fond memories of their feed store. I am certain that someday many years from now, somewhere, someone else will be writing a similar story remembering their old friends at Garr’s. It hasn’t even been a whole day and I already miss you.

Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Only 111 Days Left Until…

You guessed it; only 111 shopping days left until Christmas. Some have probably already started making their lists. I am fairly certain that there are those who already have a list of what they need to buy, as well as the lists of what the youngsters are hoping they find under the tree. I’d like to encourage everyone to please try and buy at least one thing on their list from a local business that they might not have otherwise planned to.

There are lots of perfectly understandable reasons to go online and make our purchases; the time it can save, perhaps the expense of the gas, and maybe even the upfront savings on the purchase price. But I would suggest that there are also as many good reasons to shop local if you can. Those online businesses and websites can often times save us a few bucks on the front end, but what does is cost us on down the road? Let me know if any of those online websites ever sponsor your children’s ball team or let you sell Girl Scout Cookies outside their front door. So far, I have never seen their sign on the outfield fence at the ball park or their logo on the dance team program at one of our local schools or let us use their parking lot for an organization’s benefit car wash. I’ve never seen them donate an item to our charity event silent auctions or sponsor an event in the park.

Without the opportunity to capture those precious sales tax dollars our city is forced to limit the services it can provide us. And those lost sales mean that the local businesses do not have the income necessary to hire our friends and neighbors who are looking for jobs. And as long as those who want to work in our community are going without jobs, the less they have to spend in our local economy. I can certainly understand the need to make the very best out of every dime. To do otherwise makes no sense at all.

So, I have a suggestion for this year’s shopping; ask. That’s right, take just a minute and actually ask the small business owner who has the same or very similar products if they can match the price or at least come close enough to earn your business. Shipping an issue? Maybe the local business owner will actually deliver it to you at very little or no cost? Frankly, it was painful for me to watch a local family-owned business shutter their doors this past weekend (more on that next week) after serving our community so well for the last 35 years. If you would like the contact information for many, many local businesses wanting to earn your business, check out the Chamber website and simply search the directory for what you are looking for. From “Art to Wireless” and lots of great stuff in between, your community has much to offer. Thanks in advance for at least giving them a chance!

Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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It's Complicated

After rejecting proposals from several other directors, Bob Dylan authorized Oscar-nominated Todd Haynes to make a biographical musical film about his life titled "I'm Not There." The film was named after a 1967 recording of a song that had not been released prior to appearing in the film's soundtrack. As a matter of fact, the only time Dylan's name appears in the film is during the song credits since none of the movie characters are actually named Bob Dylan!

"I'm Not There" tells the story of the legendary singer/songwriter by weaving together six different Dylan-inspired characters which represent various stages of his remarkable career. Five actors and one actress were featured in the film, including Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, and Christian Bale. When making the film, Hayes said "I set out to explode the idea that anybody can be depicted in a single self."

Have you ever wondered which actors and/or actresses might be chosen to play you in the movie about your life? What look or qualities would these actors need to possess in order to portray you accurately? What personality type would they represent? When I think about an actress that might portray me in a movie about my life, of course I gravitate toward beauties such as Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, or Kate Beckinsale (HA!). I might even choose all three since I definitely see how a variety of actors might be necessary to portray someone as multifaceted and "complicated" (as I was once described) as I am.

At the beginning of the Dylan film, a caption reads: "Inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan". How many lives or personalities do you depict? We all have many aspects to our personalities and other people often see us differently than we see ourselves. If someone was to describe you in one word, what would that word be? Would you like it or agree with it?

I have a collection of Story People prints (which I've purchased for myself) hanging on my wall, one of which says... "I think my life would be easier if I could just get my selves to agree on something." If I were to guess, the title of my movie might just be "It's Complicated."

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Your Backyard Is Beautiful!

Got your attention didn’t I? Well, the backyard I am talking about sure has mine. We’ve probably all referred to parts of our neighborhood, maybe our community and perhaps even our state as our “backyard”. The one I am sharing with you today is our State Park system.

Tonya and I recently started on a quest to see as many of the Tennessee State Parks as possible. It kind of started on a whim one day when we decided to take a little day trip to visit someplace new that we had not yet seen together. On one of our first stops we picked up a free park guide that shows the location of over 50 parks from one end of the state to the other. This locator map shows where they all are, directions on how to get there, and what types of activities are available at each. We have now visited over a dozen in the Middle TN area alone! I have to say, this is yet another reason to absolutely love the place we call home.

Mt Juliet is located only a few miles from the geographical center of Tennessee, making it just about as convenient as possible to visit them all. That cannot be said if you happen to live in Memphis or Mountain City up in the far NE corner of TN. In fact, if you lived in Mountain City, TN it would be closer for you to drive to Canada than to the other end of your own state (521 miles vs. 544 miles per MapQuest)! I hope everyone gets a chance to see some of the beauty and magnificence our state has to offer. We even went to one State Park (it’s only been a State Park for a couple of years now) that was not yet on our map which is located about 20 or so miles north of Cookeville. We were actually on our way to Burgess Falls and Tonya saw the sign for Cummings Falls State Park. We thought “what the heck, let’s check it out” and it is spectacular! Some might even call my ability to get from the passing lane driving 70 MPH to the exit ramp in under 5 seconds a bit spectacular; I hope everyone else on the road that day thought so too…JK.

Another trip took us on the Natchez Trace Parkway all the way down to Davy Crockett Park near Alabama where we enjoyed the afternoon attending Davy Crockett Days. From waterfalls and foot bridges, cliff views and scenic overlooks, to beautiful drives and wonderful picnics, we have truly come to appreciate our own back yard. So far our visits have been easy day trips nearby. We are looking forward to broadening our travels and hope to get to Reelfoot Lake near Tiptonville in the NW corner of TN across the Mississippi River from Missouri to Warriors Path State Park near Kingsport in Upper East TN. The next time someone asks you why you love Mt Juliet, maybe you too can add this to your already long list of reasons why we love our own backyard! I will see you right here next week!

Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at


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Happy Cows Make Better Cheese!

A study done by researchers at Newcastle University shows that if a cow is given a name by her owner, she generates more milk than a cow that is treated as an anonymous member of the herd. By calling their cows by name, farmers can increase annual milk yield by almost 500 pints. The study also shows that naming everything in our world, even inanimate objects like houseplants, cars, appliances, etc…helps us be more up-close and personal with creation as a whole.

We have a funny tradition in my family of naming our cars. My last vehicle, a gray Toyota Camry, was named Glenda. She was sensible, modest, trustworthy….adjectives you would automatically attach to the name Glenda. My current vehicle is a gray Ford Escape. He’s pretty plain, kind of small, but a little bit sporty at the same time, so I named him Chip! He’s not a big and strong truck (like my husband’s double cab Toyota Tacoma named Roy), but he can do anything I need for him to do, which is mostly hauling materials for my DIY projects at home. My daughter Lindsay’s white Kia Optima, Clarissa, is sleek and classy with a little bit of attitude. And for many years, my son Jeremiah drove a big old hand-me-down Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight named Harold, who recently went to car heaven on the side of the interstate between Nashville and Chattanooga (RIP Harold). So, Jeremiah purchased a brand new dolphin gray Mazda 6 which he chose to name…..what else but Dolph Lungren!

It’s funny how such a silly thing as naming your car can make you feel more connected with your vehicle. I feel as if that connectedness is very important considering most of us spend quite a bit of time in our cars driving back and forth to numerous places on a regular basis. Plus we spend a lot of money on the vehicle itself and then even more for maintenance and upkeep just so we can appreciate the privilege of driving. It’s nice to have a more personal connection rather than just strapping yourself in to a couple of tons of anonymous steel, placing it in drive and then barreling down the road from one location to the next. When I open Chip’s door and jump in, I feel as if I have a friend along for the journey.

Being connected with all of creation makes us feel more balanced, more content, and more like we have ownership in this thing called life. You’ve seen the commercial that says “Happy cows make better cheese.” I can definitely see how a milk cow might be happier and more productive when she feels valued, connected, relaxed and loved. After all, can’t we say the same for ourselves?


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Stop By Sometime…

Have you ever wished you had the time and opportunity to meet with someone from the City or County to discuss a concern, offer a suggestion or idea, put a name with a face, or perhaps just to say hello? Well, you are in luck! The Mt Juliet Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome you to stop by sometime to do just that.

Each month, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and Mt Juliet City Manager Ken Martin have set aside time to make themselves available to meet with you to discuss whatever you have on your mind. No need to make an appointment; if it is obvious that your individual matter is going to require more time than is available, a more formal meeting can be arranged.

City Manager Martin will be at the Chamber office on the first Wednesday of each month from 8:00-9:30am and County Mayor Hutto is scheduled for the last Wednesday of each month from 8:30-10:00am. Their commitment to public service is obvious and this is just one more way to help them stay in touch with their constituencies. Those who have already taken advantage of this service have found it to be very beneficial.

Sometimes it is easy to take certain things for granted and it can often lead us to ask ourselves “isn’t it like this everywhere”? Well, I don’t really think so. There is no denying that as a city and as a county, we do have our challenges; costs are going up and our income is limited. New programs and services are wanted and they come at a cost. It’s probably a pretty tough time to be an elected official trying hard to balance all of that out. Not too many elected officials I have ever known have had all of the answers themselves and they all need input from those they serve. As a community we are fortunate to have leaders that are accessible, open-minded, and eager to serve.

As good citizens I believe we also have a responsibility to be an engaged electorate. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to be somewhat aware of what is happening around us, what the plans are for dealing with the issues I mentioned earlier, and plans for sharing our talents when we can. Taking advantage of the opportunity to communicate with those in a decision making position would seem to me to be one of the first steps. On these open meet-and-greet days, there is plenty of free parking and always a pot of fresh coffee. Add to that great fellowship and wonderful people and you have a recipe for just the right setting to nurture important relationships. I hope you will take me up on my invitation to stop by sometime and as always; I will see you right here next week!

Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

My youngest daughter, Lindsay, has an uncanny attitude that is unusual for a young adult. I’m sure she gets down in the dumps at times, and I know things don’t always go 100% her way; however, anytime I talk to her on the phone, she’s like a little ray of sunshine, always happy and positive and you can just hear that in her voice. It’s contagious!

Lindsay was recently telling me about her new job search. She has just moved to Pensacola to attend grad school and she’d had an interview that morning. She was hopeful that this particular job would work out because she really liked the other employees she had met, saying that they seemed to be a good team. She went on to say “And you know what they say…Teamwork makes the dream work!”

My first thought was that this was pretty corny coming from anyone, much less a 23-year old. But on second thought, I realized that as corny as it is to say (and hear), this statement really is true! Teamwork in any area of lives can help our dreams and/or plans materialize more quickly and more efficiently.

Most of us have probably figured out by now that there are many benefits to teamwork in a work setting. When we are part of a team, each member offers their unique perspective and multiple brains are just better for bouncing different ideas off of one other! Therefore, teamwork can ultimately lead to better decisions, products, or services.

Teamwork also allows us to accomplish tasks faster since in most cases, one person taking on multiple duties will not be able to perform at the same pace as a team which has divided up the workload. Plus, each one of us has unique qualities and skills which can help improve other team members. This allows us to be more productive and on top of our game in the future.

Creating a teamwork culture enables individuals to contribute and grow more than they ever thought possible. There is a funny cartoon which shows a group of penguins standing on an iceberg. A whale swims up and opens his mouth to have a little snack and all the penguins quickly ran to the other side so that they are all standing on the side away from the whale’s mouth. The whale then swims to the other side where the penguins are standing and all the penguins rush to the opposite side once again. And so on and so on. I guess even penguins know that we can accomplish so much more when we work together as a team!


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All’s “FAIR” In Wilson County

I’m sure there is another phrase about all being “fair” in something else, but in August each year it really is FAIR in Wilson County! For those reading this article who have been to the Wilson County Fair, then you already know what I am talking about. But for those friends and neighbors, who have not yet had the opportunity to experience the Fair, make this the year to do so.

There is perhaps no other single event of the year that draws as much attention or as many people to Wilson County as the Fair. Consistently drawing in excess of 500,000 visitors during the nine-day run believe me it is a huge event. This year the theme is “Taste the Fun” and the Fair runs from Friday, August 16th thru Saturday, August 24th. There is so much going on during those nine days that I cannot possibly do it justice in my 500 words. The Fair advertising insert in the newspaper is 104 pages! But, what I can tell you is that the WC Fair is a tremendous place for families to make memories. For those of us a bit older it can be a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. And for those who get chosen to be a part of Michael Blaine’s Hypnotist Show, perhaps no memory at all. The parking is free and multi-day passes are available online, at the Chamber of Commerce, or many businesses throughout the community.

A few things that I happen to think make this such a great fair include the cleanliness of the venue, the friendliness of the volunteers and vendors, and the thousands of items on display. On top of this there is the very popular Fiddler’s Grove area which gives us a glimpse into what life was like for the early settlers who called Wilson County home. Of course there is a Midway with rides for the young and young-at-heart, a petting area, Demolition Derby, farm animals, and more fair food that you can imagine; unless you can imagine things such as deep-fried sticks of butter and fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

There are discounted tickets for children and seniors, and early-bird specials on the two Saturdays. Traffic, traffic, traffic; of course there will be some but most take it in stride and know that with over half a million people attending this event that just comes with it. But if you want to avoid it all together you may consider riding the Music City Star (train) which will be available on both of the Saturday’s as well. There are multiple stages featuring live music, entertainment, beauty pageants, and much more throughout the event. And if you aren’t seeing stars by the time it’s over, there are fireworks nightly at 10:00.

For more information you can check out their website at or call 443-2626. See you at the Fair! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

There is an Egyptian proverb that says "The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground." This is definitely evident during the height of this gardening season. I’m trying out some container gardening on my deck this year and so far, I have some pretty healthy looking herbs, tomatoes, green onions, and miniature bell peppers. Not to mention a variety of flowering plants. With all this rain we’ve been experiencing, everything is lush and green and fully blooming all the time and I’ve already had to repot some plants which had become root bound. And finally, after several weeks of careful vegetable nurturing, I’m beginning to reap the benefits of all my hard work. I must say, I’m enjoying it very much! Puttering in my deck garden, planting, pruning, repotting, feeding, and harvesting not only gives me something to do, but it saves me a little bit of money on items I purchase at the grocery store all the time. Plus, home grown produce is just plain healthy and delicious. And the flowers are not only pretty, but are a haven for bees and hummingbirds as well!  

Of course, this proverb is actually metaphorical for human beings. We, too, need certain things in order to continue to thrive. We are fed by the encouragement and mentoring of others, we strengthen our roots through friendships and networking, we grow by learning new things from books or workshops, and we might even need to be repotted every now and then just for good measure.

As you head into your next phase of growth, what parts of you need to deepen in order to reach your full potential? What growth needs to unfold as you reach toward the light? How can you go about balancing and stabilizing yourself? There is always something we can do to continue to grow and stay fresh and relevant, in both our personal and business lives. Do you feel as if you are sending roots and sprouting upwards or do you feel more like you are going to dry up and get burned out?

It’s good to ask ourselves the hard questions every now and then. Here’s a good one for you…If you were a vegetable, what kind of vegetable would you be? What would it take in order a harvest a good crop? Me? I’d be Basil. I’m pretty low maintenance. All I really need is a small pot to live in, a healthy portion of sun, a lot of water, and space enough to spread my leaves. However, I don’t wander enough to require the structure of stakes or cages. I can be potted with other plants or grow just fine on my own. I don’t require a lot of attention other than just basic needs in order to be happy and healthy.

School has already started, which means the summer is technically over for many folks. It also means that the growing season is getting shorter and shorter every day. Can you bloom where you’re planted or is it time to take a few new steps in order to fully thrive?

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Hey, Where’d My Summer Go?

I’m probably not the only one wondering that right about now. No, it’s not just you; time really is flying by. Most of us probably have a few “biggies” that hold a spot on our calendars each year, be them a special family event, annual vacation or road trip, anniversaries, special holidays, or something happening at work. We often use those milestones as little benchmarks throughout the year to give us some perspective of how quickly time can pass.

One of those things that impact the entire community (even if we do not have school-age children) is the return to class for our educators and young folks. It seems like it has only been a couple of months since the big yellow busses stopped dotting our streets and neighborhoods in the early morning and each afternoon. WAIT… it has only been a couple of months! If this is one of those things you put on your calendar, you are not alone. Starting tomorrow morning my traffic patterns will change and a bit more thought will go into when I go here and there.

You may not have thought about it, but many aspects of our local economy will see changes as well. As family schedules are altered, so are business patterns. We often find ourselves needing to be in multiple places at one time. Lots of families have children in multiple schools and this can mean picking up and dropping off a more than one location all in the same evening. Obviously that does two things; it can give us less time to do what we have been doing in the last couple of months, and it can definitely mean more cars on the streets. And on top of that, a whole new crop of first time drivers are also added into the mix.

Granted, if you look at the calendar there are still a few more weeks before we get to the next “biggie” with that being the Labor Day Holiday. That is typically the date that most of us have in our minds as the real end to summer and the beginning of the fall season. How long our school system will continue to stay on a modified calendar with a shortened summer vacation and longer breaks in the spring and fall remains to be seen and will undoubtedly be debated in the future. But for now it is safe to say, we are all in for some changes and will likely be trying to cram a whole lot into a pretty short period of time. Along with that means more hectic and crazier schedules, less leisure time, and probably some changes to our normal local travel routines.

Please don’t forget those local businesses that have served you well over the summer, appreciated your businesses, employed our young ones, and supported our summer fundraisers and back-to-school events. Thank you for continuing to shop local and for supporting those who support us. With the tax-free shopping weekend upon us, this is a great time to use the last few days of summer to visit a store you have not been to yet. See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Volunteerism…It’s A Splash!

Have you ever had a “moment” when something hits you like a cool splash of water on a hot muggy day? It happened to me today as I was thinking about this week’s column. You may or may not know about what is happening this Saturday, either way I hope you can join us in a special community celebration.

Saturday at 10:30 will be the official ribbon cutting for yet another wonderful example of community spirit and volunteerism; Ava’s Splash Pad! This tremendous contribution to the community is located in Charlie Daniel’s Park and is open to the public. Talk about volunteer efforts and seeing a dream come true, this is it! This new water park is designed especially for our young children and is a wonderful addition to our community. Ava’s Splash Pad is being dedicated in the honor of Avalyn Shaye Bright who passed away three years ago due to complications following a tonsillectomy. Since her passing, her family, friends, and volunteers have worked tirelessly to make this possible.

Having raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations, in-kind contributions, grants, and other services, this dream is about to become a reality. This community effort, led by true volunteers made me stop and reflect on the volunteer spirit that is so alive and well in our community. From one end of town to the other there are signs, bronze markers, buildings, and more that all recognize those who came before us and have left this community a better place than they found it. Without this volunteer spirit and commitment to our community, we would not have many of the blessings we enjoy today.

What’s next and how can you get involved? What is your passion or what do you feel is needed or wanted in your community? Perhaps there are enhancements to our greenways and parks, additional pavilions or family gathering areas, or upgrades to our Senior Activity Center and Help Center that you can initiate, plan, organize, and execute for the benefit of those who come after us. Imagine if just a couple of dozen local organizations, HOA’s, Churches, Youth Groups, Gardening Clubs, or others decided that the benches along North Mt. Juliet Road would look even better with colorful flowers planted nearby. Remember the signs we used to see that told us a certain part of the road was “adopted” by a certain group? What about “adopted” benches?

Rather than wait on someone else to do it for us, why not take it upon ourselves to turn our dreams into reality? If your “Volunteer” spirit is just itching to do something, I encourage you to take the next step and make it happen. As they will be saying on Saturday, come on in…the water is fine! See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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When You’ve Seen One Chamber…

There is a saying in the “Chamber Biz” that “when you’ve seen one Chamber, you’ve seen one Chamber.” That is so true and I am sure that many people reading this article would agree. Chambers of Commerce are usually asked to do many things and those things often change over the years as new leadership comes and goes.

Most Chambers eventually settle into something reflective of the needs, challenges, and opportunities of their community. Like most other businesses, organizations, churches, and associations, Chambers of Commerce are often reactive to the needs of their constituencies, members, and customers. And like some larger businesses with Research & Development (R&D) Departments, your Chamber also practices some R&D of its own; except we call it “Rip-off & Duplicate.” And while all Chambers seem to be somewhat different, there is in the end only one reason we exist, and that is to create an environment in our community which makes it the kind of place that people will want to risk their capital in the hopes of making a profit.

Look around and think about it; wouldn’t it be great to live, work, shop, pray, and play in a community in which all of the businesses were profitable? Just imagine the day when our ball parks have their outfields lined with sponsor signs because so many businesses could financially support the program. What if a new, larger and more modern Senior Center was located right in the center of town? What if our school kids never had to go door to door raising money for even the basic needs of our extra-curricular activities? What if we had a fully funded Arts Center? You get the idea; each community develops their own priorities and seeks out ways to meet the challenges in accomplishing and meeting those priorities.

In Mt Juliet, all dollars collected from the property tax are dedicated entirely for emergency services. That means the pressure and significance of collecting sales tax dollars from local businesses is even more critical. Your Chamber leadership understands that removing barriers to increasing sales and customer counts is one of the most important things we can do for our customers and all of our local businesses. And while you may have experiences with other Chambers of Commerce, chances are it was not exactly like this one. Do we get it right each and every time? That is clearly not the case no matter how hard we try. Do we understand that you need and expect the Chamber to work hard to create a pro-business environment in order for our customers to be as successful as possible? Absolutely! As we initiate and implant programs and services to help us meet these expectations, we both need and want your feedback.

A lot is at stake for our businesses, our community, and the Chamber of Commerce. If you have not taken the time lately to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or concerns about the business climate in your community, maybe now is the time to take a few minutes and let someone know. If there is something we can or should be doing to help, that we are not currently doing, maybe it is time we take a look around at someone who has it figured out and use our R&D Department to help us out. Given that no two Chambers are really alike, it really is true that when you have seen one Chamber of Commerce, you really have seen only one Chamber of Commerce. See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Bear Web Design launches Responsive Wilson County Fair Website

Over the last few months, Bear Web Design has been working on a new responsive designed website to launch for the 2013 Wilson County Fair. A responsive website is a website that is mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop friendly and provides an optimum user experience based on the device with which the website is being used.

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Becoming Young

In the mid 1960’s, hundreds of Picasso’s paintings were exhibited in Cannes, France. These works ranged from the first pieces he painted as an adolescent to the latest of the master, who was then 85 years old. It’s said that as Picasso himself roamed the gallery, a woman stopped him and said, “I don’t understand. Over there, the beginning pictures - so mature, serious and solemn – then the later ones, so different, so irrepressible. It almost seems as though the dates should be reversed. How do you explain it?” “Easily,” replied Picasso, eyes sparkling. “It takes a long time to become young.”

The minute I read this quote, my mind immediately turned to my co-worker Rose Ann, who in her early 70’s approaches everything in life with such gusto and excitement that it’s contagious. I really hope I have that same great attitude about life when I’m her age, truly seeing everything as a blessing.

A few years ago, The New York Times published an article titled “Seventy is the new 57.” According to a study of aging from the University of Michigan, on average older people feel about 13 years younger than they really are. If we are particularly healthy and active, the gap between subjective age and actual age is even wider. Evidently, how we feel about our age defines how we act; if we define ourselves as someone who is old, we will most likely act as if we are old. The study also suggests that we are often aged by the culture we live in since cultural stereotypes are often out of date (or at odds with) how we perceive ourselves, especially when it comes to how we should look at a certain age or when we should retire.

You know that bucket list you’ve heard so much about? It’s never too late to start checking things off, like Rose Ann is doing, and we should never reach a point when we are not adding new items to our list. Our bucket list may morph into something else slightly as we age, but the basic concept is still there. For instance, I may not go backpacking through Europe like I planned to do the summer I turned 50, but I can travel to a few select European cities and stay in comfy hotels. I may not learn to play guitar; however, I might take some voice lessons. I probably won’t go back to school and finish my degree, but I may take a creative writing class or enjoy some art lessons.

At the end of her life, my mom said that she had always wanted to go to Branson, Missouri. By the time she mentioned that to me, she was too sick to travel and it makes me a little bit sad that she never got to check such a simple thing off her bucket list. Writing this, it’s just occurred to me that I should plan a trip there one day in her honor. Remember that “Today is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be again.” Take advantage of that. Don’t act your age! Where/what is your Branson, Missouri?

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Clicking On All 8 Cylinders…

That’s a phrase we have probably all heard and maybe even used from time to time. And whether there are 4, 6, or 8 doesn’t really matter; the point is that things are humming along pretty well at that particular time. I suppose it could even be that while something is humming along on all eight cylinders, there might still be a few little mechanical adjustments to make; maybe the tires need a little air, or other minor details to take care of before it is truly perfect. I have to say that if our community was a vehicle, we would indeed be humming along on all eight cylinders.

In various meetings and discussions I have been a part of recently, I sense that many others agree with me about this analogy. Having only lived in Mt Juliet for a little over 25 years, I am by no means a community historian nor would I want to imply that I am qualified for much more than my own personal observations and opinions. But assuming that you read this article for my opinions and reflections I am happy to share them with you. And, in my opinion we are doing awfully darn well right now. Are there some things we still need to do better? Of course there will always be some things we want to see improved. But as I look around, listen to folks, and am out and about in the community; there are a lot of really great folks working hard on those things each and every day. The vision is there and what I see each and every day while I am out in the community is a lot of enthusiasm, energy, and excitement about our future. I sometimes liken it to the ole’ dog that finally catches the delivery truck; you can just picture the look on that little rascals face! Well, in my opinion we have finally caught the delivery truck and boy oh boy are we in for a ride now.

There are many, many challenges ahead and we will probably even hit a snag or two along the way. But oh how lucky we are to live here; I would say we are blessed beyond most people’s wildest dreams and I think we should be very grateful for such an awesome place to call home. Let’s continue to keep an eye on the dashboard to make sure we take good care of this wonderful ride. Let’s always continue to make sure everyone in our community has a great seat, and by all means let’s make sure to keep plenty of gas in the tank. In our case, that means a lot of prosperous local businesses generating those valuable sales tax dollars with our business!

Have a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable July 4th Holiday and be sure to take a few minutes along the way and remember how we got here! See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at


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And We’re Off…

While those words (or something similar) are what we often hear at the start of other horse races, it also describes the first half of the year here at the Chamber as well. If the Chamber Year was to be compared to a large oval racetrack then you would say we are somewhere on the backstretch heading toward the turn three with only two turns (quarters) to go. And if I were the race announcer and giving the updates at each length of the track I would be very excited about our track position! I would be raising my voice and letting folks know that we are ahead of the pack and looking strong. I might even be so excited that I would say we have opened up a gap already as we head into turn three. Albeit that 2013 still has a long way to go with plenty of bumps along the way, and we will almost certainly have unexpected hurdles along the way; but so far so good! A lot of preparation, training, hard work, and experience goes into winning these races, and it is great to know that your Chamber is up to the challenge. We have fantastic leadership on the Board of Directors, each committee has in place a team that can make this their best year ever; and you are being served by great group of dedicated volunteers and staff which continues to be committed to our community’s success.

Granted this is not a real horse race and it won’t be over in two minutes, but there is still a lesson to learn. Everyone has a stake in the race; every member has invested financially in this organization and it is in their best interest to see it win. And while our competition may not be other horses, we do have competition and potential obstacles at each and every turn. Some of those obstacles are clearly visible and even somewhat predictable. Others will sneak up on us from the outside or maybe even from the inside. Perhaps the obstacles are completely out of our control and are totally unpredictable. The success of local businesses is a very important part of the well-being of any community and ours is no different. Their continued success is in our very best interest. Anything we can do to help them individually will go a long ways towards the success of us as a whole.

As the small businesses in our community run the race in the months ahead, there are likely things that the Chamber of Commerce has to offer which you may not yet be taking advantage of? Perhaps it has been a while since you looked into the many resources available at the Chamber of Commerce. We would like to invite you to check us out again and we hope you will use what we have to offer to help you get a leg up on your obstacles.

I’m available 24/7 at See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Change…The One Thing That Remains Consistent

I am sure that I am not alone in wondering if it seems like the more I look around, the more change I see happening. Change is not the easiest thing in the world to get used to, no matter what your age or gender.

A number of years ago, Tonya and I decided to paint the front door of our house, and we chose a nice shade of “red” of all colors. When I was telling my then 12 year old daughter we were about to paint the front door and asked her what she thought about it, she said that was fine as long as it was not red! I would imagine that since none of the neighbors had a red front door, she was simply hoping we would not be the first. Too late, we had already bought the paint.

Many of you are also facing changes in your businesses & families that may not be something you are particularly looking forward to; increased competition, an increasingly tighter labor market, potentially higher interest rates, shrinking profit margins, increased governmental regulations, and the list goes on and on. Other changes though may be presenting new opportunities; new places to shop and dine, new customers, new suppliers, new markets, and maybe even more volunteers for our non-profit agencies. As residents of the Mt. Juliet area, we are witnessing changes each and every day. Some are good; new capital investments like office buildings, school additions, road improvements, a more diversified pool of potential customers along with a rapidly rising number of new businesses and many other things. Other changes may not be as exciting; increased traffic, potential loss of our small town culture, an increased need for emergency and public services, or even the risk of rising crime. Whatever your view may be about these changes, one thing is certain; Change is going to happen.

How effective we are at recognizing and preparing for these changes will go a long ways in determining the degree of success for our businesses, our schools, our Chamber of Commerce, our churches and non-profits, as well as our own personal wellbeing. As long as we are green and growing, and as long as we recognize and embrace change, we can all enjoy this exciting time in our community’s evolution. Why not take a step back and look at the many new businesses in our community. The magnitude of this change is significantly affecting us as customers, as employees, and other key stakeholders. When it comes to doing business or deciding where to spend our precious family dollars, we may simply need to make a few minor adjustments here or there. For others, maybe the changes will be more dramatic. Either way, adjusting to change can be a good thing; even if it means painting your front door red.

I’m available 24/7 at See you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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