The new chairperson of the Bristol Tennessee-Virginia Chamber of Commerce asked those gathered for the chamber’s annual meeting Friday what they are willing to do differently to move the cities forward.
Jerry Kirk, market president of Renasant Bank, accepted the gavel from outgoing 2021 Chairman Jasen Eige of The United Co. during the first in-person annual meeting at the Bristol Conference Center and Hotel in two years.
As a longtime Bristol resident, Kirk described some of the economic transitions he has seen and said Bristol is positioned for success.
“Bristol has come a long way. Today our city is much different,” Kirk said while mentioning the availability of full-time jobs, Bristol Motor Speedway, downtown, the casino opening and a variety of educational institutions as some of Bristol’s strengths.
“We are blessed by being the big city without the big city hassles,” he said.
Still, Kirk said there are issues that need attention such as a lack of housing, homelessness, workforce issues and a very competitive economic environment.
“How can we be more successful at all these challenges and simply do it better than our competition?” Kirk said. “What are we willing to do differently to have greater progress than our competition?”
He said having all the businesses involved in working for Bristol’s success is key.
“Our success in 2022 will take greater participation from our membership, great engagement along with collaborating and having very intentional input from you [the business community] as we advance our economic vitality,” Kirk said.
The meeting also featured a keynote address from Patrick Kilbride, the senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber Global Innovation Policy Center.
Piney Flats’ own Carson Peters, fresh off his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice,” sang the National Anthem and two other songs to entertain those gathered at the tailgate-themed luncheon.
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