First Friday Forum Takes a Look Back at the History of Small Businesses in Jackson and Madison County

JACKSON, Tenn. – The Bicentennial Edition of First Friday Forum will continue downtown at First Methodist Church on Friday, May 6.

The bicentennial programming and event theme for May is small businesses. Sharon Younger, of Younger Associates, will speak on the past, present and future of small businesses in Jackson and Madison County.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with the business leaders who shaped the modern economic landscape of Jackson,” said Younger. “We’ve worked alongside the companies that doubled the retail base, exploded the real estate footprint and re-imagined the city. Jackson is home to some iconic brands and Younger Associates has created brand identities for an amazingly large number of them!”

First Friday will be held at First Methodist Church located at 200 South Church Street in downtown Jackson on Friday, May 6. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m., lunch will be served starting at 11:45 a.m., and programming will begin at approximately 12:15 p.m.

As this is a catered event, advance tickets are required for attendance. The cut-off for purchase is 6 p.m. the Tuesday prior to the event. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased using a debit or credit card at

Tickets can also be purchased by cash or check at the First Methodist Church business office during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday or 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Fridays).

First Friday is sponsored by Allison Insurance.

The Bicentennial edition of First Friday is held on the first Friday of every month through August 2022. Dan Morris and David Thomas, of Madison County Sports Hall of Fame, will be speaking about athletics, sports and leisure on June 3. A reservation link will be released on soon.

Younger will provide an update on Blue Oval City.

Additionally, the Bicentennial plans to recognize some of Madison County’s oldest small businesses.

About Sharon Younger

Sharon Younger is president and founder of Younger Associates, Inc., an economic research and strategic communications firm that provides services to private developers, site consultants, economic development organizations and transportation agencies.

Dr. Younger is a frequent speaker at national conferences for professional organizations. She is an economic development instructor for the Economic Development Institute, IEDC, University of Oklahoma, Auburn University, University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University and CETYS University in Mexico.

Before founding Younger Associates, Dr. Younger was an associate professor of market research and advertising at Union University. During her time at Union, she launched the Center for Business and Economic Services where she served as director. Prior to her work at the University, Dr. Younger worked in market research for a Fortune 100 company.

Recognized nationally as a leading researcher in the field of economic and community development, Dr. Younger and her firm have successfully completed regional and statewide research for clients in twenty-six states. Workforce development strategies led by Dr. Younger for Wyoming and Louisiana have been profiled in the national media and noted as the best in the nation for solving workforce shortages.

As a skilled facilitator, Dr. Younger conducts focus groups and leads strategic planning programs. She has expertise in guiding groups through developing successful plans with realistic goals and measurable benchmarks. Her planning work has a successful track record for gaining acceptance by multiple stakeholders and support from elected leaders.

Dr. Younger managed the Public Involvement Program for the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Long-Range Transportation Plan, the first statewide 25-year multi-modal plan in Tennessee. As Public Involvement Lead Consultant, she planned and implemented the statewide public and stakeholder strategy and environmental justice outreach. Additionally, Younger Associates was charged with the development of the final plan document.

Dr. Younger has worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to develop successful strategies for recruiting the plastics and automotive industries. Also for TVA, she conducted a potential freight movement study for the development of the Port of Cates Landing.

Her firm also worked with TVA to analyze the economic impact of the megasite program by analyzing the activity in five megasites and strategies for developing two additional megasites including the Memphis Regional Megasite. The firm conducts continuing economic impact analyses and benefit-cost analyses to determine incentive levels for projects and prospects.

In a project funded by the U.S. Trade Development Agency, Dr. Younger worked with the Republic of Cameroon to develop a feasibility plan to attract World Bank and other international financing initiatives for the development of a deep-water port in the city of Limbe.

The staff at Younger Associates advises a number of economic development agencies and industrial development boards on strategic data-driven communications with location consultants and prospects; marketing and attraction programs; evaluation of incentives; and economic impact analyses.

Dr. Younger has developed target industry strategies for a wide range of cities, states, regions most recently including Bradenton/Sarasota, FL, The Shoals Region of AL, Ocala FL, Charlotte, NC, and Chattanooga, TN. Younger Associates’ research has played a key role in many site selection decisions across the United States, including automotive assembly plants, foreign investments and global technology companies such as Space X.

The firm completed a comprehensive analysis for the 10-county Thomas Jefferson Partnership region centered in Charlottesville, VA. The study encompassed six distinct components: a workforce analysis, existing business cluster analysis, emerging and growth industries analysis, technology assets inventory, strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats assessment, and an economic targeting strategy. This was the first study for an economic development agency that combined all these areas of expertise to develop a comprehensive development strategy for the region.