Fayetteville native Taylor Shelton joined the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce soon after he spoke to its president and CEO, Steve Clark.
Shelton was interested in politics and wanted to work in community development. While Clark didn’t have a job opportunity when they first spoke, he did the next day and offered Shelton the open position.
“I was very lucky and fell into it,” Shelton said. “He took my liking to politics, and we had some discussions leading up to his offer. … Not a lot of people my age get to do what I do.”
Shelton’s thoroughness when confronting a challenge has led to his success, Clark said.
Shelton started in September 2016 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas. He previously was an intern for the city of Fayetteville and completed research on banning plastic bags, which recently gained attention as a possible city ordinance.
As one of nine chamber employees, he works with city and business leaders on issues, including starting or retaining businesses. He travels to the Capitol with business leaders to meet state legislators and learn about bills that might impact their businesses. In 2017, Shelton started taking business leaders to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal legislators.
Shelton also moderates political forums for city council members and state legislators to provide community information and updates on bills. He has used technology to expand their reach, including to livestream them via social media. Forum viewership has risen from dozens to hundreds and thousands of people. Amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, he expects more web-based updates and forums will take place.
Shelton also is working with the UA and city of Fayetteville to revamp a sustainability program for businesses. He’s working with UA instructor Carrie Nelms and her communications class on the updated program that is expected to start this fall.
Shelton is an advocate for area businesses and the development of Northwest Arkansas and supports projects that are “forward-thinking and beneficial to the community,” Nelms said.
Over the next three to five years, Shelton might look to run for political office, such as city council. He serves on the Keep Fayetteville Beautiful Committee and plays guitar in a band.