Writer / Janelle Morrison
Optimistic about her new role and the direction in which the chamber is moving, Phillips hopes to “fill the incredibly large shoes” left by her predecessor, Julie Johns-Cole. Phillips is looking forward to using her existing relationships that she built over the years with ZEF while establishing new ones with the business community and the town’s economic development leaders.
As the executive director of ZEF, Phillips achieved concrete goals such as increasing revenue by 11 percent in three years, reinventing the spring fundraiser for the changing demographics, and adding strategic social media platforms. Before her departure, she was instrumental in the planning and execution of ZEF’s 20th Anniversary celebration. During that anniversary year, foundation giving reached $1 million.
“I grew up just a few miles from downtown Zionsville and spent a lot of time going to the shops and restaurants here,” Phillips said. “I am looking forward to working with the chamber’s board of directors, its committees, and all of our Zionsville businesses. While I see economic development as a top priority, business retention is equally as important. I plan on doing a lot of listening over the next several months and observing what areas need attention and what is working effectively for the community as a whole.”
Phillips emphasized that she is available to discuss the issues and ideas with local business owners, whether they are large companies or small business owners. She is also relying on the residents’ feedback with regards to the community events that are produced by the chamber. Phillips’s prior experience as the public relations and special events manager with the Paseo del Rio Association, a chamber of commerce in San Antonio, Texas, gives her the ability to understand the impact that events have in bringing visitors and prospective customers to area businesses. She also understands the importance of working with the affected businesses so that the event benefits all concerned.
“It is important for me to work to balance the town’s economic growth while preserving the foundation that it was built on and the unique character that Zionsville is known for,” Phillips expressed. “I am fully committed to doing what is best for my community and am excited for this opportunity to serve my community in this new chapter of my professional life. For me, a large part of my career is focused on servant leadership and on giving back.”
Phillips acknowledged the growing population and the fact that more young professionals and young families are moving to Zionsville. She is excited for the opportunity to engage the YPs and expand the chamber’s virtual footprint through its growing social media presence.
“In today’s world, Gen X and Y, Millennials and Gen Z get their information and share their thoughts with bidirectional social media,” Phillips observed. “It is a whole new playing field and in utilizing my experience and continuing education in this specialty, I expect to expand the chamber’s profile.”
Tom Casalini, Zionsville Chamber of Commerce board member and president of Casalini Photography, expressed optimism about Phillips’s new position and Zionsville in this new year. “I believe that Tracy will do a wonderful job as the executive director,” Casalini said. “She possesses a level of professionalism and energy that is necessary for that role. In my 44 years of experience, what is transpiring now in downtown Zionsville is the closest that the town has been to the energy of the 1970s through the early 80s. The chamber is actively engaging with businesses that are interested in locating here and is advocating for the businesses, such as the ones affiliated with zWorks, who are growing here. These businesses have chosen to stay and expand here in Zionsville.”
Bryan Traylor, a Zionsville resident and past-president of the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, offered a brief review of the Chamber’s progress over the years since he joined and what he feels Phillips will bring to the table. During Traylor’s first term as president, the chamber went from having no employees (the part-timers had resigned) to the hiring of a full-time executive director, Julie Johns-Cole.
“I think that Tracy is a phenomenal hire,” Traylor stated. “Tracy being a resident and her experience with ZEF makes her a perfect fit. If you follow her on Facebook, you can see how much she loves Zionsville and how much the businesses and schools mean to her. She is not going to do anything that would put the chamber or the community in any bad light or in jeopardy in any way. She has the heart for this job.”
Traylor concluded, “Admittedly, I was extremely nervous when Julie chose to move on. I knew that at some point she would move on to something else and that we were lucky to have Julie with us for as long as we did. Naturally, I was really concerned about who would replace her. Those are extremely big shoes to fill. When the board announced Tracy as the new director, I let out a big sigh of relief. She doesn’t have to go around and meet everybody because she pretty much already knows everybody.”
For more information on the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, membership benefits and upcoming events, visit www.zionsvillechamber.org. Be sure to follow the chamber on Facebook and Twitter.