PHOTO: Matt Largen speaks at the Franklin Sports Hall on Wednesday during the Williamson, Inc., Annual Celebration / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The Williamson County Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Celebration event in Franklin Wednesday night, featuring the CEO of Kirkland’s Mike Cairnes as a keynote speaker. With hundreds in attendance, Cairnes lauded the political, business and community leadership present in Williamson County, and considered it to be the main factor for the county’s success.
“We are witnessing an era of unprecedented innovation and reinvention,” Cairnes said. “Whether you are the private or public sector, small or big – it brings you to the crossroads of either irrelevance, or massive opportunity. It is the fear of irrelevance that has been my motivation.”
President and CEO of Williamson, Inc., Matt Largen, also spoke at the event, and discussed the significant achievements of Williamson County in education, business, and record-low unemployment.
“From an economic development standpoint, we continue to grow as a county,” Largen said. “Williamson County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, for now three years straight. This is definitely something worth celebrating.”
Unemployment in Williamson County has gradually declined since a high of 8.5 percent in 2009, reaching a record-breaking low of 2 percent in April of this year. For comparison, the unemployment rate for Tennessee is currently 3.5 percent, and the national rate is sitting at 4 percent.
Largen also shared the fact that Williamson, Inc., will have conducted 42 ribbon cuttings in 2018, averaging almost one a week.
“This is really important, because it shows the economic diversity of our community,” Largen said. “Ninety percent of all the businesses in Williamson County are small businesses. Ninety-five percent of our membership are small businesses. It’s really amazing to be at these ribbon cuttings, and to hear those stories from those business owners who start these businesses, who risk the capital, who employ our friends, our families, our neighbors.”
Also shared by Largen was the fact that well over 100 nonprofit organizations are partnered with Williamson Inc., and that Williamson, Inc., had recently launched its fourth leadership program, Young Professionals, which helps nurture young professionals’ leadership aspirations.
“If you want to innovate, destroy all constraints,” Cairnes said. “Care more about the team than the outcome. Any transformation or reinvention activity is done by a team, and it’s an intimate and intense experience if you’re going to break the mold. At the end of the day, it’s going to be won or lost by the team.”