Duane O'Neill-President/CEO Jackson Chamber Partners
 
The Rotary Club of Jackson was pleased to welcome Duane O’Neill, RCJ member and President/CEO Jackson Chamber Partners.
 
President Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi, called the meeting to order. Keith Ferguson of LogoStore USA gave the opening prayer, Johnny Donaldson, president of BankPlus Jackson, led the pledge of allegiance and Neddie led the Rotary 4-way test.  Tony Webb of Community Bank introduced and welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests of Rotarians.
 
The head table included Mayo Flynt, President AT&T Mississippi; Amanda Fontaine, Executive Director of the Mississippi Burn Foundation; Primus Wheeler, Executive Director; Jackson Medical Mall and businessman LeRoy Walker, who introduced Duane O’Neill.
 
 
Neddie acknowledged and gave accolades to the new Paul Harris Fellows – Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General's Office, Tony Webb of Community Bank and Nancy Lane of Lane-Harkins Commercial Real Estate.
 
Committee Spotlight: Marilyn Blackledge – MS Food Network spoke about the JPS Book Buddies Committee and the responsibilities of the committee.  Marilyn invited others to join the committee.  Reading with the students will begin after Labor Day.
 
 
The Rotary District 6820 Leadership Institute Parts I, II and III will be held August 25 at Jackson First Church.  This is open to all Rotarians. http://www.hoa-rli.org
 
Duane A. O’Neill has served since 1993 as President and CEO of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, formerly the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce, Jackson, Mississippi. This regional chamber serves 2,200 members representing a population base of over 560,000 people. O’Neill and the Partnership have used his extensive background in economic development and the building of regional partnerships to establish the organization as a premier business development entity.
 
 
O’Neill addressed the club by asking “Where are we as a community?”.  O’Neill is optimistic about the direction we are moving.  Good things are happening in the counties and surrounding cities that the Chamber Partners serve.  Our area has $30 billion impact on economics due in part to two major contributors:  healthcare and advanced manufacturing.  These two areas contribute to good economic growth.  As a result, we have to focus on where we can recruit valuable workforce personnel.  We do have an abundant workforce locally, and we are able to draw from other areas of the state.  The Jackson Chamber Partners are developing programs to assist in the development of a viable, dependable workforce. 
 
According to O’Neill, the biggest obstacle in the development of our communities is the lack of cooperation between community leaders.  It’s critical that leaders learn to work across county and city lines.  He cited the example of the Waster Water treatment facility and the Jackson airport.
 
O’Neill was positive about the efforts Mayor Lumumba is making to affect the infrastructure of Jackson and what that impact that will have on surrounding areas.  Specifically, O’Neill was highly optimistic about Bob Miller, the new Director of Public Works and the improvements he hopes to make.
 
O’Neill fielded questions regarding JPS and the economic impact that has on incoming businesses, the issues of violence and the cost of doing business downtown.
 
Neddie thanked O’Neill and adjourned the meeting.