Fulton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors President Lynn Blaylock had a list of important questions for all would-be local leaders.
“How do we get our drinking water?” she asked via email. “Where is waste water treated and released? What are the challenges currently facing the public school and community college systems? What kinds of services do businesses need to be successful in Fulton? What is it like to run for public office?”
She’s is hoping this list of hypothetical questions will be among those answered during the chamber’s upcoming Leadership Fulton program. Set to kick off on Feb. 25, Leadership Fulton is a paid program in which, over the course of four monthly sessions, participants will engage with local municipal, education and business leaders to learn all the mechanisms that keep Fulton running.
The first class will be hosted by the City of Fulton and Mayor Lynette Weatherford and will focus on turning citizens into local leaders. The program will continue on March 17 with a class on health and human services, hosted by the Fulton Chamber of Commerce itself, and again on April 28 with a class on education, hosted by Itawamba Community College. The program will conclude on May 26 with a class on local business and industry, hosted by Mueller Industries.
Classes will involve lectures, group activities and discussion, networking and tours of the host facilities.
Each class will kick off at 5:30 p.m. and wrap up three hours later. Each includes a meal.
The cost to join the program is $100. To register, contact the Fulton Chamber at 662-706-4032. The deadline to register is Feb. 19.
According to Blaylock, while hosted by the local chamber, the program is open to anyone, not just chamber members. She’s hoping for participation of between 10 to 15 people representing a mix of local business people, volunteers, retirees and high school seniors.
“The purpose of the program is to expose participants to critical components that make up the community of Fulton,” Blaylock said. “Participants will meet and learn firsthand from leaders and decision makers. The knowledge they gain from the program will allow them to find ways to become leaders themselves.”
Chamber executive director Molly Loden agreed. There are a lot of intricacies in the patchwork of organizations, individuals and businesses that keep a city going; the program will shed light on some of those details.
“Really, we want to show people things they don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis, but which are really important to the city of Fulton,” she said. “We hope it will give people in Fulton the opportunity to learn more about their community and pick up skills they can put to use.”
Participants will also be able to network with representatives from the host organizations.
If Leadership Fulton goes over well, its organizers are hoping it will return next year with at least two extra sessions.
“We’d like to keep the topics we have, because I think they’re important, but also expand the number of topics we cover,” Loden said. “We don’t want to ask for too much time, but we want to get the most out of it we can. We want participants to feel like they’re getting something out of it.”
But that’s the future. For the present, Blaylock hopes participants will leave the program with a little more knowledge of what makes a community tick.
“My hope is when they complete the four sessions, [participants] will have a better understanding of what it takes to have a successful community in the areas of government, community services, education and business,” Blaylock said. “I hope they leave the program knowing that in order for Fulton to be a great place to live or work, all of us have to be leaders.”