J.P. Parsons, Vice President - Destination Marketing of the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce, has announced his retirement. Parsons has been at the Chamber of Commerce for more than 16 years.

His official retirement date will be March 29, 2019.
In his announcement, Parsons wrote, “On March 29, 2019, I will complete 16 years and 3 months with the Greater Jackson County/Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. It has been an honor to work for a progressive, program-driven Chamber of Commerce in Alabama.
I knew that when I first came to work in 2003 that a Program of Work & Marketing Plan was a necessity.  I also knew that if we had the right leadership, vision and practices, known as “The Process” as defined by Nick Saban, then the all-important goal of advancing tourism in Jackson County, Alabama would follow.
A strong work ethic is a good thing, but it will rarely be enough in today’s instant knowledge economy. The world’s technology is changing so fast, I’m not sure I know of anyone that can truly keep up with it.
Those that know me best, know how dedicated to project completion, creative, and loyal I am. Throughout those 16 years, I’m proud of the progress we made, though we sometimes took a step or two back before we got going forward again. For the times that we had those setbacks, know that I was trying, but there were many periods that we needed to hold back, simply because we didn’t have the resources to accomplish certain goals. During this time, we thought ‘outside-the-box,’ got creative, wrote grants and anything else we could to keep-up the progress we had made. From my perspective, I hope you will remember my part because I am proud of it.”
   According to the Alabama Department of Tourism’s latest economic impact report, tourism employment in Jackson County totaled 703 jobs, an increase of 8.1 percent in the last five years. The same report indicated that direct travel related expenditures in Jackson County represented a total of $55.8 million into the small businesses of the area, a 10.3 percent increase over the last five years.
Parsons applied and assisted in the application process and awarding of several grants for tourism events including the $2,500 for the Stevenson Depot Bicentennial grant; Cedar Hill Cemetery Stroll made possible from the $2,500 Bicentennial grant, $5,000 Trail of Tears Bicentennial grant and $2,500 Woodville Bicentennial Celebration, Bicentennial grant. He also applied and received a Product Development Grant and Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism to enhance tourism marketing efforts through the Advanced Tourism and Travel program. That grant amount was $16,500.
Parsons was instrumental in organizing and participating to bring annual major bass tournaments to Jackson County including the Anglers Choice Regional Championship with 600 out-of-state anglers and an economic impact of $900,000 and the McDonalds Big Bass Splash with over 1,200 anglers and an economic impact of $2,600,000. Has served as treasurer on the Alabama Bass Trail Board since it began.
He was the main organizer and promoter of Geo-Tourism in Jackson County, he continues to serve on the key leadership group that has made organized birding and wildlife watching a reality in North Alabama.
Parsons has been recognized as one of Alabama’s most prominent writers and authority on Alabama travel for contribution to Alabama Road Trips publication. He was awarded Tourism Professional of the Year by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association. He completed Marketing College for certification as a Tourism Marketing Professional by the Southeastern Tourism Society. He has served on the board for the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association for 15 years.
He was selected by Southern Living Magazine and The Southeastern Tourism Society for their annual Rising Star award for two consecutive years. The award is presented to tourism professionals who have made an immediate and significant impact in their area.  Competition for this award extends to the 12 Southeastern states.
He has hosted travel writers for golf publications as well as representatives from Germany and United Kingdom to write articles about The Unclaimed Baggage Center.
Parsons said the he owes a debt of gratitude to those he has worked steadily beside and those who have shown confidence in him and given him the freedom to complete his goals.
“You know I am talking about Rick Roden! I’ve always believed that leave-takings matter, and I want to leave emphasizing what matters most. If a person can really, really reason and reflect then all the other things we care about are likely to follow, like marriage, family, home ownership, health, faith, and happiness,” he said.
Parsons plans to stay active in the area after retirement. He hopes to continue working with fellow Alabama tourism professional and maintaining a strong connection. He hopes to work with community organizations to successfully complete grants and help out as a volunteer for events such as fishing tournaments.

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