Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
Taylor County economic turnaround led by John Chowning
A story about leadership, from the inside out, which turned around Campbellsville's post-FTL economy
As Columbia's Industrial Development struggles to produce results, we have a great opportunity to partner and speak with one voice, as neighboring Taylor County did, to restore the economy.
By Linda Waggener
Adair Countians don't have to be reminded how bad things got when Fruit Of The Loom shut down. What is interesting today is how Taylor County has rebounded. Their city is not just back from the devastation of FTLs shutdown, it is back even better. Campbellsville and Taylor County are doing so well economically that they are receiving national attention as a prototype of a community turnaround.
In seven short years Taylor County has
The question was posed to Billy Joe Fudge, a Columbia citizen who has owned a business in Campbellsville for several years. He said, every good thing happening in Taylor Countys economy has John Chownings stamp on it.
More questions: Might that be the John Chowning who grew up on the Adair-Cumberland County line? John Chowning who attended Lindsey Wilson College and met his wife there? John Chowning who was given less than one year to live -- 11 years ago?
Indeed it is.
The leader of the successful economic turnaround in Taylor County is a young man who should never have been allowed to slip past Adair Countys border into Taylor. It would have been smart to have recognized and recruited the talent when John and Catherine Pence Chowning met as students at Lindsey Wilson College, battling each other for student government leadership.
It was John Chowning who gathered wounded Taylor County individuals together seven years ago in the face of the worst employment crisis in the areas history, and challenged them to:
He was ready for the challenge of leading his hometown in cricis.
There had been no red flags of warning prior to the FTL crisis, so economic development was not a major priority in the lives of most Taylor County residents. Even so, they didnt wait for help to come looking for them, John and six others from the CTC Industrial Development Authority put their shoulders to the wheel. In its inception there were John Chowning as Chairman, George Gupton Vice Chair, Jim Richardson Secretary, Mark Johnson, Bill Chandler, and Chris Reynolds. They would recruit and hire an Executive Director/CEO, Kevin Sheilley, and coin the phrase Team Taylor County, as they brought together the city, the county, the university, the schools and the economic development organizations.
Team Taylor County, would act as a crisis-response team of local business, community and academic leaders, for bringing the county back. Even when they had nothing, they boldly put some stipulations on recruitment efforts, they would not accept one huge single employer this time, and they would not accept polluting firms. They placed a big emphasis on people development.
Realizing thousands of workers would need to be retrained, the county tapped into job-training funds like federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, geared for workers losing their jobs to the negative effects of trade treaties. Campbellsville University and other post secondary schools provided training opportunities.
A technology-training center was created which allows companies to provide customized training. The center works with industry to train employees in a range of technology skills, including several computer- industry certifications. It also provides space for companies to train their employees on new equipment before it is installed.
Funding for the completion of Highway 210 was put in place.
And Team Taylor County partnered with financial organizations like Community Ventures Corporation, a 501(c)3 not for profit based in Lexington with an office in Campbellsville, so small businesses would find capital with which to build.
The recent news coverage comes for the fact that Team Taylor County did exactly what it set out to do. Campbellsvilles economy is thriving.
Strong roots: John's strong family and ministry background may have been the key factor in his success because he says he knew from his fathers farm operation how to read the signs, plant and harvest, and as a Baptist minister, he knew how to gather in the sheaves and help them pray and hold the faith.
He and his brother Joe Chat, sons of Chattin and Elizabeth Brockman Chowning, grew up down highway 704 on one of the most scenic valley farms in Kentucky, nestled in the bend of the Crocus Creek on the border of Adair and Cumberland Counties. John says he learned much from his father who was always involved in quiet leadership in both Adair and Cumberland Counties. He has tried to build on, and to pass on, all he learned in those years.
John and Cathy Chowning have made their home in Taylor County since 1977. Cathy is a licensed physical therapist. They are the parents of four children. Their daughter Kacey and her husband Jason live in Green County and have two children, Jacey, four, and Jacob two. They have triplets who are 23 now: Kaleb works in the CU Tech Training Center, Laura lives in Frankfort where she works in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Emily who is currently in PT school, and is married to Youth Minister and Soccer Coach Jason England.
You will find John during the week in his responsibilities at Campbellsville University as Vice President for Church and External Relations, Executive Assistant to the President, and Political Science Faculty. On Sundays you will find him in his leadership role as Senior Pastor of Saloma Baptist Church.
What's next: While he is retiring from the position of Chairman as the new year begins, John will remain on the CTCIDA board. There are at least two major unfinished goals he wants to continue working with, including the widening of Kentucky 55, (Heartland Parkway) between Springfield and Columbia, and the proposed Heartland Technology and Commerce Park, a 200-acre facility Chowning described as "state of the art", which will be located just south of Campbellsville near The Homeplace.
For more details, visit: www.TeamTaylorCounty.com
This story was posted on 2006-02-01 09:26:54
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.