Jenkins’ focus good fit for promoting Chamber, Natchez – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

Jenkin’s focus aligns well with Chamber, Natchez’s promotion

Published 12:03 PM Saturday 24 September 2022

Lyn Fortenberry Jenkins might not think of herself as a morning person, but she does her best to fake it.

Jenkins, President and CEO of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce, updated members of the Natchez Kiwanis Club on the Chamber’s work this week.

Stacy Graning

“We are partnering with the Downtown Natchez Alliance and have brought back dealer meetings downtown,” she said. “The meeting we had on Wednesday at 8am was packed…and we’ll meet again next Wednesday…at 8am!”

With a tongue-in-cheek sigh, Jenkins admitted the early-morning call was a challenge for her, “but it’s when we need to meet for our businesses, many of which open at 9 or 10 in the morning.”

Jenkins, a sixth-generation Natchezian, has over 18 years of event planning and tourism experience. She took over the leadership of the chamber in June, after more than 15 years of volunteer work and board membership for the organization. “It’s different on this side,” she says, laughing.

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Known for her high energy and ability to get things done, Jenkins has placed the same focus on the Vault. An active program of work includes educational partnerships with local schools — “people just don’t realize how committed the chamber is to schools” — that sponsors Natchez Early College and the Youth Leadership Program, which will enroll 27 high school juniors this year spend a year learning about community and leadership; partnerships to support nationwide workforce development efforts, which in turn help produce qualified employees for local business and industry needs; work with Visit Natchez to create discount programs for local merchants; educational opportunities for members, such as legislative forums; and programs that nurture and grow local businesses.

“We are the voice of business for Natchez,” she said.

Of course, with a successful career as an event planner, Jenkins puts these skills to good use quickly. Several band cuts will be available for new members over the next month, including a progressive band cut on October 9th, which will be moving from Restore Health and Wellness to The Shops at Kress to Frankie’s on Main for a much-anticipated opportunity to have a to experience from Natchez’s Newest Restaurants.

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“We’re doing a new event this year and we’re having a kids’ color run … on the same day as our tree lights in downtown Natchez,” she said.

And in an ambitious endeavor, Jenkins revealed the Chamber will be bringing back the popular Food and Wine Festival. “We’ve already chosen our favorite charity this year – the Stewpot,” she said. “We haven’t had that since 2018, but we’ll be following the same format with a Friday night tasting at the cliff and Saturday events including mixology classes, wine and cheese classes, bocce tournaments at Natchez Brewing and dinners at the (historic) houses .”

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The event, which will take place over the weekend of July 28, 2023, is expected to bring more than 1,500 people to Natchez.

And that’s the key to this event and much of the Chamber’s work: bringing people to Natchez. With an economy that relies heavily on tourism, creating events that bring people to the city – people who in turn spend money in hotels, at retailers and in restaurants – is a focus from which we all benefit.

Jenkins is committed to this work, even if it means showing up to 8am meetings with a smile. “And the 8:00 AM Friday forums, we do that every other Friday now,” she smiled at the Kiwanis members. “Because, well, it’s 8 o’clock on Friday.”

Stacy Graning is the regional editor for BNI-Inland Group and The Democrat. Email her at [email protected]

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