Jul. 18—Jim Tunison's job title may sound simple, but it requires him to wear more hats than one might think.
Tunison is the director of membership services for the Aiken Chamber of Commerce, which means the 27-year-old finds sponsors for chamber events, runs said events, and creates "different and unique ways for members to connect and engage with each other."
While that may sound like a lot, Tunison is well equipped for the job stemming from both his skills and the people around him.
"When you have a community like Aiken, and a team like we have at the chamber, it's really easy for you to thrive and be successful here," Tunison said.
Tunison was born and raised in the small town of Bath, New York, located in the state's Finger Lakes region and about 85 miles south of Rochester. The youngest of three boys, Tunison said his older brothers were great role models.
"It was cool watching them grow up because I got to learn from them and see what they did, and it really set a straight path for me," Tunison said.
Growing up, he played a few different sports, which led to him playing baseball for four years at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania, about 26 miles southwest of Scranton. Tunison said his athletic involvement was "essential" to both his professional and personal development.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in management, Tunison moved a few miles down the road and worked for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders minor league baseball team, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
During his four years with the team, Tunison honed many of the skills he uses for his current position, including finding sponsors and coming up with creative ideas.
Near the end of those four years, Tunison's then-fiance, now-wife, Kelly, was finishing up physical therapy school and while job-searching, came across a position in Aiken. Neither of the two had ever heard of the city, but she ended up applying.
"Long story short, she ended up killing the interview, and she loved the people who she met," Tunison said. "And two weeks later, she had a job offer, and about two months later, we were down here in Aiken."
One of Tunison's first steps in Aiken was setting up a meeting with the chamber to see where he could get "plugged in" within the community. He met with J. David Jameson, the chamber's president and CEO, and had a great meeting, before chance soon struck.
A few days after the meeting, the position which Tunison now holds became available and he was invited in for an interview.
"The next week, I had a job," Tunison said.
In the two and a half years since, Tunison has become entrenched within the Aiken culture and community, and said he sees someone he knows almost everywhere he goes. He also credited Jameson as a mentor and has learned a lot from him.
"I hear often that Aiken finds people, people don't find Aiken," Tunison said, "and I think that's what happened to us. So, it's just truly been a blessing to be here."
Tunison said he has helped organize a few social media campaigns in his time, including "Shop Local, Shop Aiken" during the holiday season and, more recently, the "Good News" campaign during the coronavirus pandemic.
"For people who were (opening) back up, (we) started doing videos for them," Tunison said. "And people who stayed open throughout the pandemic, we're just trying to find ways to highlight them through our social media campaigns."
Outside of work, Tunison said he enjoys traveling, reading, U.S. history and talking baseball. He is also involved with the American Legion Post 26.
"It just seems like the community here, everyone kind of pulls for each other," Tunison said. "It just seems like everyone's on the same team and wants Aiken to be successful and continue to grow."
As far as future goals, Tunison said he feels like God wants him in Aiken for the time being as he continues to develop within his role at the chamber.
"They certainly invested in me, and I'd like to continue to invest in this community," Tunison said.