shown: Virgin Falls, Sparta Tennessee
Executive Director, Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce
As a twenty-eight year resident of Gatlinburg, Vicki Simms has grown to know the community she lives in as a thriving tourism based economy. With over twenty years of experience in the tourism industry and almost eight years as the Executive Director of the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, Vicki Simms is able to present a wealth of first hand knowledge of the community its growth in a commitment to protect the gateway it presents to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Through her involvement in the Gatlinburg Partnership Council and the Gatlinburg Gateway Foundation she has witnessed first hand the desire for the community to work collaboratively t o provide environmentally sensitive and economically viable solutions to the growing pressures of a small mountain village which plays host to millions of visitors a year. Vicki learned "in the trenches" how important tourism is to the development of the Gatlinburg community and it's economic well being; in addition to this knowledge, she and as an active participant in the visioning process for the community has been a part of the understanding of the importance of using consensus driven processes to address the growth and needs of individual communities.
As a participant in the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Citizen Based Resource Team, Vicki has worked hand in hand with various facets of the community to provide the State of Tennessee with well thought out and viable solutions to issues concerning a very volatile project and through her work at the Chamber has facilitated a regional effort to provide a comprehensive corridor management plan for the entire HWY 321 Corridor which traverses 7 counties in East Tennessee bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park and several State Parks as well. The work of this group has resulted in the award of $125,000.00 America's Scenic Byways grant.
Because of its close proximity to the National Park and the exposure tourism provides Gatlinburg to visitors from around the world the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce in 2007 initiated the "Gatlinburg Goes Green" initiative with its membership. This project formulated throughout 2007 was unveiled in the first quarter of 2008, with an initial goal of at least 25% of the Gatlinburg Chamber Membership participating on some level of the program and culminating with the hopes of 75% participation by the membership by the end of 2009 when Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate its 75th Anniversary. Vicki's passion for her work with consensus driven processes has lead her to understand the importance of the open forum and working diligently to obtain the commitment needed from those who share an appreciation of not only the natural beauty which Great Smoky Mountains has provided to its residents and visitors alike but also of those who understand that it is vitally important to protect this jewel and the true economic impact it has provided to the community.