Julie Blaylock Knoxville seems to have a certain magnetic charm that draws people in from all over the map. Our community is certainly better for it, especially when it involves people like Julie Blaylock. Originally from Long Island, New York, Julie made the move to Knoxville in 2000. Studying English at the University of Tennessee, she once considered teaching. However, there was another path in the works for her.
Working for seven years at an architectural firm as an office manager, she was eventually laid off, but taking it in stride, she was off to bigger and better things. In 2011, she was hired to be an executive assistant at the Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce by then President/CEO Bettye Sisco.
Founded in 1987 by the late mayor Bob Leonard and a couple of local enthusiastic business owners, the Chamber has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of its 33-year history. Although it went through some hard times, Blaylock learned a lot from her mentor, Sisco, who was able to increase the membership at the Chamber by the hundreds over her tenure.
After Sisco’s retirement, Julie was hired by the board to take over the position as president and CEO in February of 2017, after a short period as interim director. It’s a job that’s proven to be very rewarding.
“I love the people,” she says, “and that includes my staff, my board, my ambassadors, my volunteers, and all of our business owners. I started out life thinking I wanted to teach. What I really wanted to do is help people, and I get to do that every day in this job.” Blaylock explains it is the best job she never knew she wanted.
The Chamber continues to grow by leaps and bounds, no doubt in part as a result of Julie’s zeal for her work and her passion for bringing people together. “I think one of the most important functions of the Chamber is connecting the right people with the right resources,” she explains. “That could be small business development assistance, economic assistance, new clients, new customers, new vendors … We are on the fast track to convening all of the entities that are under our umbrella.”
Julie doesn’t fathom leaving her post any time soon. Having fallen in love with Knoxville almost twenty years ago, she can’t imagine returning to New York. “The size of the city is perfect,” she says. “There are lots of restaurants and plenty to do, but it still has that small-town feel.”
Mayor Glen Jacobs and his team are working closely with Blaylock to host small-business events and encourage local commerce.