The City with Vision: The Jackson Chamber of Commerce Plans for the Future

Portico Jackson Magazine
Annual Jackson Now issue
July 2012

The city of Jackson not only has soul, it has loyalty, community, and determination.  Over the last few years, while other major metropolitan areas have been struggling to overcome hard times, Jackson has been working to improve its economy and quality of life.  Strategically situated at the crossroad of Interstates 55 & 20 and a stopping point between Chicago and New Orleans and Dallas and Atlanta, the city of Jackson is a prime location for starting a new business.  The staff of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce is working to keep it that way.

The Jackson Chamber of Commerce was launched in 2006 under the umbrella of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.  While the Partnership oversees economic development for seven counties that make up the Jackson Metropolitan area, the Chamber was organized to ensure that the city has the support it needs.  With its sole focus being the city of Jackson, the organization’s mission is to encourage diversity and cultivate a thriving and favorable climate for businesses and communities.

“The focus of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce is strictly on Jackson,” said Cynthia Buchanan, Executive Vice President of Jackson Chamber of Commerce.  “Our board members are individuals that live and work in Jackson and have a strong passion for the city.”

The organization has many exciting projects in the works.  Recently, it teamed up with Market Street Services, Inc., an Atlanta-based national provider of community, workforce, and economic development consulting services, to develop Vision 2022.  Through interviews and focus groups, Market Street conducted an extensive assessment of the economic status of the city of Jackson, evaluating both the strengths and weaknesses of the area.  The group released their findings in Fall 2011.  The Jackson Chamber is now working in conjunction with the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership to decide how best to implement these changes and promote the city as a great place to live and work and attract new businesses and development.

One of the projects already underway is the construction of the Museum to Market multipurpose biking and walking trail.  The project is being funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation in addition to support from The Jackson Bike Advocates, Bike Walk Mississippi, and the Greater Jackson Partnership.  Expected to break ground in 2013, the trail will begin at the Mississippi Farmer’s Market pavilion on High Street in downtown Jackson and follow the abandoned Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad line through the Belhaven community to the Agricultural, Children’s, Nature Science, and Sports museums on Lakeland Drive.  Once complete, it will be the only multipurpose trail in Jackson.  Plans are also in the works to eventually connect the trail to other trails in Ridgeland and Flowood.

“We are finding that people who are searching for a place to live and raise a family are looking for public amenities such as this,” explains Buchanan.  “The Museum to Market trail will not only encourage healthy living and promote a better quality of life for our residents, but it will also attract new residents and more tourists.”

The chamber also works to give back to the community.  Every two years, the organization hosts “Authenticity,” a fundraiser where the proceeds are donated to Jackson first responder groups.  In the last four years, the event has helped raise money for improvements to the Jackson Police Academy and purchase new furniture for the Jackson Fire Department.  Through the Adopt-a-School program, Chamber members serve as both sponsors and mentors for students and teachers at Lee Elementary School.  The organization provides volunteers for school functions such as science fairs and field days, monthly speakers and breakfast for teachers, and volunteers for the school’s Read Across America program.

“We feel by becoming actively involved with our schools, we are producing better students and eventually better citizens,” Buchanan adds.