Tamika E. Jenkins
Mississippi County Economic Development Vice-president
Education: B.S., material engineering, Iowa State University; M.S.M., project management, Colorado Technical University online
Professional background: Jenkins has been the Mississippi County Economic Development project coordinator since 2007 and was recently named vice president. During her tenure, she has been involved in numerous economic development projects in the county. Prior to her employment with MCED, she served as the executive director of the South Mississippi County United Way.
What was your dream job as kid and why?
My dream job as a kid was to be a beautician, but then that evolved to an engineer. With both jobs, I just wanted to make things better. Being a beautician would have allowed me to make people feel great about themselves. Being an engineer would create a safer environment or more effective tools for people to use.
What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?
The most fulling moment of my career has been the ability to learn how to provide technical assistance to nonprofit organizations – being able to connect them with financial resources, assist in grant writing, and to witness the caring power of people when their fellow man is down on his luck. I also had a great time working with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and connecting with disenfranchised citizens, to hear their voices and meet their needs.
What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?
Be patient and prepared. If an opportunity is meant for you, a door will open. But you also have to be ready to walk through that door with confidence.
What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?
Being the first African American woman in Arkansas to obtain a certified economic developer designation. A CEcD is one of the highest honors an economic developer can obtain. There are currently less than 20 people in the state of Arkansas who have their CEcD.
How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?
Time away from work sometimes is nonexistent, but I love to enjoy time with my 7-year-old son. We sing, dance, and chase each other around the house.
What’s the last good book you read?
“Surgery for the Soul,” a book about forgiveness by Dr. Brenda Caldwell.
Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential and why?
There are several women in economic development that I admire, but none like the late great Maria Haley. She exemplified grace under pressure while keeping it real all at the same time. I felt she was a great director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and I enjoyed her leadership very much.
What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you?
I can speak pretty good German. [Jenkins minored in German at Iowa State.] Whenever I hear a group of strangers speaking German, I always chime in, and they are always surprised and welcome me into the conversation.
Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic?
I have learned that we need more staff at my organization. I wish I could have assisted more businesses in applying for the COVID-19 resources that were depleted so quickly. I wish we could have worked closely with the local chambers to disseminate information so the small businesses could stay afloat during these hard times.
What’s your favorite app at the moment?
Confession — I live on Facebook.
If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?
Visit Japan and Dubai, see my son become a leader in the community, and obtain my CecD.
What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?
The ability to connect with a variety of people. Economic developers and NPO [nonprofit organization] leaders have to be a social butterfly of some sort. While I’m not the most social butterfly, I have a strong connection to those who allow me to befriend them.
What’s your biggest passion and why?
My biggest passion is seeing my community grow. Growth requires change, work, and commitment. I love to see people in my community working for a better tomorrow.