By Heather Mullinix
Brad Allamong, new president and CEO of the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, has found a community "poised to launch into great things," he said.
"There's a lot of things going for this community and there's a lot of opportunity here and in this county," Allamong said. "I think with my background, we could do some really neat things."
He believes the community is looking to the Chamber to take a leadership role in the move forward with economic and community development.
"That's really exciting," he said. "To talk into a community where the engine's running and just waiting for someone to put it into gear...I just hope we can be a part of that."
He's been on the job officially since July 1, but he arrived in Crossville a few weeks early and has been getting to know his new home and meeting with community and business leaders.
"There are some real jewels in Crossville. It may be one of the best-kept secrets in Tennessee," Allamong said, noting he found treasures such as the Cumberland County Playhouse and other draws just about everywhere he went.
His early arrival meant he was able to see the community through the eyes of a tourist, and he liked what he saw. He commented there was an excellent road system with lots of entry points to take visitors to the heart of the community. But, he said, there is an opportunity to help lead those visitors with more signage highlighting what there is to do in the community.
Now that he's on the job, he's been familiarizing himself with the Chamber, its members, employees and programs.
"Even though it's a little community, this is a strong organization in terms of members," Allamong said.
He said he'd like to see the Chamber become more "hands on" and spend more time out in the community talking with members, potential members, leaders and opinion makers.
"There's a lot going on in the community. Unless you're out there talking to people, it's just impossible to keep your hands on what's happening," he said.
He also noted the Chamber's capable staff had kept the organization moving forward in the interim period between the departure of former Chamber President and CEO Beth Alexander and Allamong's arrival.
"I'm lucky," he said. "I come here and I find that we've got a lot of talent, a great board. They're excited about the year ahead."
Allamong would like to get a dialogue started with Chamber members and residents of the community at large and forging a stronger relationship with the Chamber's public partners.
"Strength is not by the individual parts, but it's how you get everyone on the same page," he said. "The Chamber can't do it by itself. We're a piece of the equation, but we're not the whole equation."
Allamong has been familiarizing himself with ongoing efforts of the Chamber, including tourism and retiree recruitment efforts, as well as projects that are planned, including the downtown infrastructure improvement project, the Big South Fork Visitor's Center and a possible spec building the city is considering for its industrial project.
Allamong has settled into a new home with his dog, Ellie. His sons, Alex and Max, are students at Iowa State.