Jenkins accent suits Chamber promotion, Natchez

Posted at 12:03 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2022

Lyn Fortenberry Jenkins may not consider herself a morning person, but she does her best to pretend.

Jenkins, president and CEO of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce, briefed Natchez Kiwanis Club members on the work of the Chamber this week.

Stacy Graning

“We are working with the Downtown Natchez Alliance and have brought the downtown merchant meetings back,” she said. “The meeting we had on Wednesday at 8 a.m. was full…and we’re meeting next Wednesday…at 8 a.m.!”

With a wry sigh, Jenkins admitted that the early morning meeting call is a challenge for her “but that’s when we have to meet for our businesses, many of which open at 9 or 10 a.m..”

Jenkins, a sixth-generation Natchezian, has over 18 years of experience in event planning and tourism. She took over the leadership of the Chamber in June, after working for more than 15 years as a volunteer and member of the organization’s board of directors. “It’s different on this side,” she laughed.

Known for her high energy and ability to get things done, Jenkins took the same interest in the House. An active work program includes educational partnerships with local schools – “people just don’t realize how involved the Chamber is with schools” – which promotes Natchez Early College and the Youth Leadership Program, which will include 27 high school juniors this year to spend a year learning about community and leadership; partnerships to support county-wide workforce development efforts, which in turn help produce skilled 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 promote 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 is quick to put those skills into practice. Several ribbon cuts are planned for new members over the next month, including a progressive ribbon cut on October 9 that will move from Restore Health and Wellness to The Shops at Kress to Frankie’s on Main for a much-anticipated opportunity to experience the one of Natchez’s new restaurants.

“We’re having a new event this year and having a children’s color run…the same day as our tree lighting in downtown Natchez,” she said.

And, in an ambitious undertaking, Jenkins revealed the Chamber will be bringing back the popular Food and Wine Festival. “We have already selected our charity of choice this year – the Stew,” she said. “We haven’t had this since 2018, but we will follow the same format with a Friday night tasting on the bluff and Saturday events including mixology classes, wine and cheese classes, tournaments of bocce ball at Natchez Brewing and dinner at the (historic) Maisons.”

The event, which will be held the weekend of July 28, 2023, is expected to bring together more than 1,500 people in Natchez.

And that’s the key to this event and a lot of the Chamber’s work: bringing people to Natchez. With an economy that relies on tourism as its main driver, creating events that bring people to town – people who in turn spend money in hotels, at retailers, in restaurants – is a goal which benefits us all.

Jenkins is committed to this work, even if it means showing up to those 8 a.m. meetings with a smile. “And the Friday Forums at 8 am, we’ll do them every other Friday now,” she told the Kiwanis members with a smile. “Because, well, it’s 8 a.m. Friday.”

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