TUPELO – The Rogers family is doing more than talking about attracting young professionals to Tupelo.
Chris Rogers, as the former chairman of the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency and the current chairman of the Community Development Foundation, has repeatedly expressed his desire to make Tupelo a desirable place for young people to live.
The thinking is that the more attractive the city is, the more people will want to live here and the more businesses will locate here.
He refers to Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s frequent refrain of making Tupelo a “cool community.”
“It was cool when I was growing up and it could remain that way,” Rogers said. “Tupelo’s got a lot to offer and I hope my family continues to add to that.”
During his nine years with TRA, which oversees the development of Fairpark, Rogers said he had his two children in mind when he and the board were making decisions about the direction of the area. He wanted to create an area that would attract young professionals, such as his children.
Kyle, now 27, and Kory, now 25, both left town after graduating from Tupelo High School to go the University of Mississippi.
After graduation, the two 20-somethings had to make the decision that faces many college grads – where do I go next?
Kyle opted to move to Memphis in 2006 to work as an independent appraiser.
Kory in 2007 moved back to her hometown of Tupelo. She now is a retail management trainee at Renasant Bank.
“The difference between me and Kyle is I never had a desire to go elsewhere,” Kory said.
While his kids were making their decisions, Chris continued his work chairing TRA and running his longtime business, Rogers Realty & Appraisal Co., which he founded 1981.
When Kory returned to town, she got on her dad’s bandwagon. She joined the CDF-sponsored Tupelo Young Professionals, a networking group that reaches out to Lee County professionals ages 21 to 40. She now co-chairs the organization with about 500 members.
Meanwhile, Kyle was getting settled in Memphis. He continued with his appraisal career at Rip Walker and Associates, married Brittany Carroll and bought a house.
Dropping a bombshell
But then Chris shook things up in October.
“I’ll never forget that conversation,” Chris said. “I told them, ‘I’ve got a bombshell to drop on you. I’m going to work for someone else.”
Chris was offered the job of chief appraisal officer and senior vice president at Renasant Bank. It’s a new job created to head a new department for the Tupelo-based bank to order, oversee and review appraisals for Renasant’s banking system.
“I felt like at my age, I needed a little change of pace and this is just a little change,” Chris said.
Kory jokes with the family that she’s done such a good job at the bank that Renasant decided to hire her father.
“When dad told us he was leaving his business and was coming to the bank, it surprised us all,” Kory said. “It still has not sunk in.”
Chris, who started at Renasant on Nov. 2, is responsible for ordering and reviewing the appraisals. In contrast to his former life as an independent appraiser, he won’t actually be doing the appraisals.
He also has a new dress code.
“I’ve never worn a tie in 30 years,” he said, tugging on his tie that is required attire by the bank. “There was a time 15 years ago that I thought I needed to, but it wasn’t received well. I’d show up to do an appraisal and people thought I was a banker, not an appraiser.”
Not an easy decision
Chris’ decision left his former business up in the air. He offered to sell the company, the clients, the staff, everything, to Kyle. Not wanting to put any pressure on his son, Chris said he would take the Renasant job no matter what Kyle did.
Kyle said the offer was a shock.
“It was not an easy decision,” Kyle said. “I have many friends and connections in Memphis. But it was such a big opportunity that I couldn’t pass it up … I learned a lot in Memphis and I’m looking forward to applying it.”
Kyle’s first official day was Wednesday. He’s commuting from Memphis and plans to get the business rolling next week.
So now the whole Rogers family is back in Tupelo and it’s gained a recruit with Kyle’s new bride.
Chris and Kory are making the most of the opportunity. The father-daughter team go out to lunch at least once a week.
“I think we’re a real tight-knit family,” Kory said. “I think it’s a good thing.”
With all the changes, the family discussions have a lot to do with decorating for their new lives.
Last week, Chris, Kyle and Kory were sitting in Chris’ new office on the fourth floor of Renasant, discussing whether the rug went with the room and what artwork should go on the walls. Kyle recommended his dad get a bonsai.
“I thought about stealing your mom’s,” Chris said of his wife, Holly, who was out of town to see a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Kyle said he doesn’t expect to do much redecorating at his office less than a block away on South Broadway Street, besides swapping his dad’s MSU paraphernalia out for Ole Miss memorabilia and pictures of his mom for those of his wife.
The business name will stay the same, Kyle confirmed, after quickly joking that he was thinking about changing it to “Big Kyle’s Realty & Appraisal Co.”
“Rogers Realty & Appraisal always was and always will be,” Kyle said, grinning. “It’s just gotten a little younger.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal