In the Know: Jill Cutler of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce
(Editor’s note: This is a weekly series in which community leaders share their thoughts and goals for the community.)
Jill Cutler, executive director of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce, has been part of Mercer County for 30 years. Originally from Pennsylvania, Cutler served on the board of directors for the chamber for over six years before becoming executive director in 2010.
“I am proud of our whole community, said Cutler. “We are an amazing county full of welcoming people.”
When asked about her proudest accomplishments, Cutler moved the focus to the county as a whole.
“The chamber is only a part of what is making things happen here,” said Cutler. “Our community and all the different organizations are full of people making things happen.”
Cutler said she is proud of so many things that choosing one to talk about was difficult, but she said working with the community to bring Campbellsville University to Harrodsburg was a highlight.
“Bringing an institute of higher education here after seven years of work is amazing,” said Cutler. “You don’t always get to see the fruit of your labor but this one was pretty doggone sweet.”
Cutler said the partnership between the chamber and Campbellsville has been beneficial to the community.
“Everyone wants progress but they don’t want to lose the things that make Mercer great. So measured progress is the way to go. Measured progress is what we are getting from Campbellsville,” said Cutler. “Two examples of measured progress is the partnering of Campbellsville with the Kentucky Fudge Company and the Harrodsburg Area Technology Center.”
Cutler said Campbellsville wanted to open a food service within their campus and partnered with the Fudge to build up the community. The opening of a night welding program had been a goal of Campbellsville, and partnering with HATC was a win-win situation.
“Measured progress is about moving forward while preserving our past,” said Cutler. “We are all really proud of the university and the partnership.”
Cutler said she is also proud to work with the Friends of Fort Harrod and Joseph’s Dream Inc. to reopen the Big Spring, which is located behind the former Harrodsburg High School building.
“The Big Spring is a legacy we can leave for our children, a preservation of our history,” said Cutler. “We worked hard to get the grants to clean up the park and as soon as it dries out we are hoping to finish the walking trail.”
Cutler said John Landrum and many others were instrumental in making the park into a lasting attraction. The park is currently open to the public and was included as part of the Holiday Historic Home tour in December.
Cutler acknowledged many people want more franchise restaurants and stores in Mercer County.
“We all want to see those restaurants get here but we don’t have the population,” said Cutler. “People are surprised when they realize those companies have rules and population size requirements before they will commit to allow one to be opened.”
Cutler said growth in Mercer County is happening and it will continue to happen.
“People chose to live here because there are really good people here,” said Cutler. “People come back for the festivals and see their home town in a new light. My goal is to have them see the festivals as signature events, events that are a must see.”
Cutler said she loves the grass roots style of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce and the history that comes with it.
“Every chamber is a little different and have different styles of how they work. They are all economic driven but ours is very grass roots and covered in history,” said Cutler. “We always want to grow but keep our history too, and as a former history teacher, I love that.”
Cutler said some of her goals include a resurgence of the adult leadership programs. She said the youth leadership programs are going strong but she would like to see more adults go through the programs.
Cutler says volunteers are welcome at the chamber and they are always looking for people to help.
“There is always something to do from making goody bags to cleaning up, we love our volunteers,” said Cutler.
For more information abut the Mercer Chamber of Commerce, call 734-2365.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.