When Chase Harper, 30, first moved to Franklin he had a handful of business connections after previously working in Nashville, but the Mississippi native was still learning the his way around the community.

Harper currently works at the TMA Group in Franklin, where he is the business and rideshare services administrator. He has called Franklin home for over two years.

In Harper’s role, business relationships are important, and getting involved in Williamson Inc.’s Young Professionals program was an important step for him to take.

“I was starting to see benefits personally and professionally,” Harper said. “This experience has helped me grow in my journey through business and life.”

The Young Professionals program offers quarterly networking opportunities to those 40 and under through mixers and luncheons.

Williamson Inc.’s Senior Director of Events Abby Bass explained there is a difference between the two events that may be commonly confused.

“Mixers are more about business networking, while the luncheons provide professional development opportunities through educational seminars,” Bass explained.

Another pathway participants can take is Leadership Young Professionals, which is a more rigorous pathway. Participants become more engaged through community involvement in learning about many facets of Williamson County. The program requires a two-year time commitment, and a community service legacy project near the end.

History of Young Professionals 

Before the chambers across Williamson County were unified under one chamber, the Young Professionals led the way with getting to know one another prior to unification.

“As talks of unifying to one chamber started to evolve, the Young Professionals said ‘why wait,’ and they went ahead and began to do joint mixers and events,” Bass said.

Bass explained the overall goals of the Young Professionals programs are to equip and prepare participants for future leadership roles they may take.

“All our Young Professional programs are designed to make connections with fellow Young Professionals, build deeper roots in Williamson County, and elevate their professional development,” Bass said.

Harper feels participating in Young Professionals is doing exactly what the program is designed to do – forming relationships.

“When I think of Young Professionals, and the people I’ve met through the program, I see them as super smart, and the future leaders of Franklin,” Harper said. “You start to learn and piece together who all the players are in Franklin, but also how all nonprofit and for profit businesses work together,” Harper said.

One way Harper saw businesses work hand-in-hand was through being a member of the inaugural Leadership Young Professionals program. Four groups did unique service projects throughout the community as part of the program.

Cards of Care was the project Harper and his fellow group members Carmen Stanek, Brooke Wanser and David Kelly choose to pursue.

The mission of Cards of Care is to “encourage those in our community and those visiting to lift each other up with words of kindness and love.”

The project was unveiled in downtown Franklin, near city hall in early May. The concept is for citizens to take a note already in the box, and leave their own unique message of kindness, using the note cards and pens provided in the drawer installed on the box.

The group also partnered with the Refuge Center for Counseling for the project in the hopes that people will seek its counseling services, if needed, through literature inside.

Since receiving significant media attention, Harper said the project is going beyond what he could have dreamed of.

“It’s already doing more than I thought it would do, which we’re super excited about,” Harper said. “We’ve seen it flourish.”

One day, Harper and his fellow group members were tending to the box when a woman came over and started talking to them about how great the box was, not knowing that they were the creators. The woman shared that her daughter had recently gone through a divorce, and had stopped by the box.

“They stopped by and grabbed a card, and it said something that was catered exactly to what she needed to hear,” Harper said. “That’s not by chance, that card was hand selected for her.”

Acquaintances have turned into close friends for Harper since going through Leadership Young Professionals and attending other related events with his tightknit group of friends.

“We were acquaintances when we started, now these people are my really good friends,” Harper said. “It has made this place feel more like home.”

Now a member of the Young Professionals Steering Committee, Harper and other members are planning to ways to help future members grow into leaders.

Sydney Ball, Regional Business Development Manager for First Citizens National bank, became involved with the YP program when she transferred back to Middle Tennessee three years ago.

“I joined the YP Leadership Committee and served for two terms in 2017 and the YP program was the fastest way for me to get connected with a group of peers that were engaged with the community and wanting to connect with one another to grow professionally.”

“I have grown in my understanding of the community and the amazing offerings that make Williamson County a unique place to live. Joining the Williamson, Inc. YP program has provided both leadership development opportunities, as well as educational opportunities, that have helped me to grow personally and professionally.”

For more information on Williamson Inc.’s Young Professionals contact Abby Bass atabby@williamsonchamber.com or call 615-771-1912.

 

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