The new person in charge of promoting the benefits of living and doing business in Horn Lake knows very well the challenges to be faced. But Laura Taylor’s business background positions her well to help meet those challenges in a city that is excited about what lies ahead for it in the future.
Taylor, who has been the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Coordinator under Varina Hopper the past two years, has taken the reins at the Chamber as Executive Director with Hopper’s recent departure for East Tennessee with her family.
Together, Hopper and Taylor have moved Horn Lake forward while fighting a negative perception some have painted on the city. Taylor vows to continue the battle against that incorrect insight.
“One of the goals that Varina and I both worked on was to improve the perception of Horn Lake,” Taylor said. “We have a lot to offer and that was one of my missions, to change the perception. That is definitely what I am going to carry on as we move forward.”
Taylor came from a business background before coming to the Chamber of Commerce in the role of Membership Coordinator. It was that knowledge that made her know what business owners require to improve their bottom line.
“It gave me some insight into understanding the needs of small business owners, the challenges and the triumphs that they face in growing their businesses,” Taylor said. “That’s played a role in some of the relationships that I have built with some of the members that we have here and some non-members that have needed an ear and someone to listen to make them feel heard.”
Taylor added she wants to continue a dialogue with the city’s business owners, aware that even if problems cannot be solved, the ability to share concerns is important.
“I think that empathy is critical,” said Taylor. “I have heard from various people that their most important desire is to be heard. Sometimes the things they’re talking about don’t have a solution but in truly listening and letting them know that they’ve been heard their attitude changes and their attitudes are contagious.”
A project Taylor was actively involved in before Hopper’s departure is one she is continuing to make happen. That is the Horn Lake Food Truck Festival, set for Latimer Lakes Park on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. Food trucks will be set up in the park for people to share time at the park while enjoying delicious fare from food trucks around the Mid-South.
It’s part of programs done to reach out to everyone in the community.
“I want to build on the culture Varina set in motion and continue to develop and grow the seeds and programs that she started and was involved in,” Taylor noted. “She and I made a tremendous team. Part of the team is now missing, but I still plan to think ‘outside the box’ and be creative to try to make a positive impact.”
Another project looming in the future is the development of the Circle G Ranch attraction on the city’s west end, where thousands of music fans and Elvis fans in particular are expected to come and see the ranch and honeymoon cottage the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Priscilla at one time owned near Goodman Road West and Highway 301.
“Circle G is definitely going to increase visibility, recognition and tourism,” said Taylor. “I hope that proves to be an extremely positive, win-win, situation for DeSoto County and Horn Lake.”
In the weeks since starting her new position, Taylor said she has been involved in a bit of learning curve, but she is looking forward to growing the business climate in the DeSoto County community.
“The challenges that your small businesses face, I’m very aware of them,” Taylor said. “That gives me an ability to not just listen to what they say but to truly hear some of the things they are facing and emphasize with them. The shared experience is something I think we can gain from.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.