Gardner to leave association after seven years

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Tammi Gardner will leave her position as director of the Natchez Downtown Development Association in mid December.

Gardner, who has held the position since September 1999, used both her personality and her business background to push successful projects through the NDDA, said outgoing president of the board Michael Cates.

&8220;Being a former downtown business owner, she knew the concerns and needs of downtown merchants,&8221; Cates said. &8220;She&8217;s committed an awful lot. Her personality has really been that organization.&8221;

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Gardner said the organization has been her life and it will be hard to step out of it.

The NDDA received its first Main Street designation in 1998, giving it affiliation with both the state and the national Main Street organizations.

Mullins is pleased with what the organization has accomplished in recent years, including organizing and completing clean-up and beautification programs downtown and sponsoring Christmas events held in the downtown area.

&8220;I guess the biggest thing, though, is Art and Soul,&8221; she said. That festival began last fall and will be held again Sept. 29 and 30, featuring artists, entertainers and food and drink vendors on Main and Commerce streets.

&8220;I&8217;d been wanting to do a festival that meets downtown criteria,&8221; she said. &8220;I wanted something that would bring everyone to the heart of downtown, and last year we did it.&8221;

Downtown business owner Brenda Zerby of Moreton&8217;s Flowerland said merchants and others will miss Gardner in the NDDA position. &8220;We will miss her enthusiasm and her undying dedication to the fact that downtown can be viable,&8221; Zerby said.

&8220;I loved her youthful and optimistic outlook. And I admired the fact that even though it was her job, she always took it a step above.&8221;

Zerby credits Gardner with helping to unify splintered groups and getting things done for downtown.

Gardner said the position at NDDA has given her the opportunity to know many Natchez people, not just business owners but others, as well, she said.

She said she looks forward to continuing work with the association on a volunteer level. Meantime, she also looks forward to making a change in her life.

&8220;I think with nonprofit organizations like this one, there comes a time for new blood. You need someone new to come in and make it grow and take it to a new level,&8221; she said.

She plans to develop further a small business she has started at home as a seamstress, creating &8220;home stuff, like slip covers, drapes &8212; you show me a picture, and I can make it.&8221;

Cates said several people interested in the position Gardner is vacating have made their interest known. &8220;But we&8217;re still going to post the job for about a month,&8221; he said. &8220;We want the process to be completely transparent and give anyone who is interested in the job the opportunity to apply.&8221;