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Passion for economic growth drives Emily Johns

By Kay S. Pedrotti If dedication to growing this area, plus a winning personality that draws people to her, are factors in whether Emily Quinn Johns is successful with her new post as chamber of commerce president and CEO — she’s in the right place. The 34-year-old is still learning the area, she says, but every day brings something that piques her interest. Johns believes the key to growth is community cooperation, ‘and Barnesville seems to have a lot of that.’ She will be meeting regularly with small downtown businesses and larger companies here to find out what the chamber can do to help them. Landing deep into Buggy Days preparations, Johns has found ways to sort the office stuff from festival needs. Because the chamber sponsors Buggy Days, her development of a solid plan for growth will probably not be settled right away. ’What Lamar County needs most is good, strong industries and companies to locate here, to complement those small businesses that are the backbone of downtown. We need a good mix to find ways to retain the character of Barnesville and stimulate revenue in a kind of ‘˜big meets little’ so they work together with the chamber and community,’ says Johns. ‘This is such a neat town and the people are wonderful. There is a positive energy here.’ Buggy Days always helps bring people to Barnesville as a destination, as does BBQ&Blues, she adds. She came to Barnesville after five-and-a-half years as assistant to the executive director of the Griffin-Spalding Industrial Development Authority. Johns grew up in the Augusta suburb of Martinez and attended Mercer University, where she received a bachelor’s in education. She then tried nursing school at Georgia Southern University but decided that was not the career she wanted. At a Statesboro party, she met a guy from Griffin who later found her on an Internet chat room; they exchanged messages for more than a year while he served in the Air Force in Minot, N.D. Then he came home on leave to Griffin and she visited friends in Atlanta, so they made arrangements to see each other. ’We were engaged within just a few days,’ she said. ’We’ve been married 13 years.’ Her husband Chip Johns is now an investigator with the Griffin police department and their children are Brice, 12, and Hailey, 9. The family is active in Griffin First United Methodist Church. Johns got parts as an extra in the television show ‘Rectify,’ filmed near Griffin, and in Drop Dead Diva, a Lifetime channel movie set to air Aug. 26 at 9 p.m. It was ‘fun and amazing’ to find out how extras have to react to the main characters, she said. Other interests besides family and friends include cooking and fitness workout, ‘when there’s time.’ Good luck in your new job, Emily Q. Johns — especially with finding time.

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