Wigington Reflects on Year as Chamber Chair
Jody Wigington likes to keep busy.
Somehow, between traveling all over the country to discuss the technology-driven advances of the city’s publicly owned utility and managing its four divisions, Wigington found the time to volunteer as the year-long chairman of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce.
At the Chamber’s annual banquet held Nov. 17, Wigington bid farewell to the role, welcomed 2017 chairman Gordon Lintz and explained why he didn’t hesitate to take on the leadership responsibilities that accompanied his tenure.
“It was a natural fit given my utility involvement with industry and economic development,” Wigington said. “What enlightened me was to feel the heartbeat of small businesses in our community; to see the number of new and expanding entrepreneurs, who have dreams and take risks.
“I love the support given by the chamber staff, the ambassadors and many others that make it work, I’m just thankful to be a part of Morristown,” Wigington said.
After thanking his wife, Rosemary, for her support, Wigington told the crowd gathered at the meeting that growing up in the local area gave him a clear view of the Chamber’s effectiveness in the community.
“I’m a direct beneficiary of the progress of Morristown and the difference it has made to the Lakeway Area and the many families that live here. We are indebted on many levels to those who paved the way, and when you look at the job base for our residents and children, one man has been very special, Mr. R. Jack Fishman,” Wigington said.
He shared two particular initiatives spearheaded during his year as chairman. The first was the Young Professionals group, led by Tom Strate and Whitney McGowan.
“The Millennial age group is very important to our community and will fill the jobs of our future,” Wigington said. “We need them working here, living here, and raising families here.
Wigington also expressed appreciation to local lawyer, Eliana Leal, for her efforts in building a group of business leaders that began work to value diversity and integrate prospering Latino businesses into the life of the Chamber.
“An organization will never sit still if continued success is your vision,” Wigington said. “Over time the forefathers of industrial development in Morristown looked to diversify the profile and eventually moved to add automotive, plastics, food and others. Today, industry is the lifeblood of Morristown, providing jobs to eight counties in the Lakeway Region.”
The Morristown industrial makeup includes eight Fortune-500 companies, 13 international companies representing six countries, 96 manufacturing and industrial-related companies that provide nearly 9,000 manufacturing jobs. In total, over 20,000 people outside the city enter daily for employment.
“We are very blessed to live in a community with great history and surroundings created and painted by a Holy God. While respectful of the past, I charge the future leadership of Morristown to keep your finger on the pulse and not only protect, but increase the heritage for future generations,” Wigington said. “Every equation of life has variables and constants. From a faith level, Jesus Christ has been, is, and will be my constant; other things may change, but the Lord God does not.
“On a very different level, from a Chamber perspective, we have a number of solid constants including sound government, solid infrastructure, industrial base, location, recreation, TVA, and great people. Morristown separates itself with high-speed telecommunications that follows railroads and interstates as the next essential infrastructure.”
Wigington said the long term challenges for Morristown include finding a way to expand its footprint to obtain new industrial areas; pursuing opportunities in educational facilities to train workers with the advanced skills necessary to support industry; and ensuring road improvements that optimize public access into and out of the city.
Wigington expressed appreciation for local leaders appropriating taxes to improve the community and their vision to preserve its heritage and expand greenways.
“Tax increases are never popular, but they are necessary at a point – you get what you pay for and this community deserves the best,” Wigington said.
Incoming Chamber Chairman Gordon Lintz will be profiled in the Nov. 27 edition of the Citizen Tribune.
-From Staff Reports