Beth Williams- Putting Greenwood first

There is always something interesting and fun happening in Greenwood and, in many cases, you will find that Beth Williams is involved. Williams is the new president of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and is also the general manager of one of the state’s finest upscale boutique hotels, The Alluvian Hotel.

Williams’ involvement in the Chamber has run the gamut from committee member to committee chair to board member to now being Chamber President.

“She’s a super creative person who brings not only creativity but a voice of reason to the table when we are exploring ways to do things in our community,” says Chamber Executive Director Beth Stevens. “I admire her ability to see things from all viewpoints. She has a real knack for thinking carefully before taking action.”

Greenwood Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) Executive Director Danielle Morgan appreciates the grace and professionalism with which Williams manages The Alluvian.

“The hospitality industry never sleeps and there is always something to be managed, but Beth remains cool, calm, and collected until the job is done,” Morgan says. “I admire and respect her opinion and experience. We are grateful to have her as a tourism partner. She understands the industry and is always willing to offer support to the CVB and other community partners to promote Greenwood. We couldn’t do what we do without her leadership.”

Williams grew up in the small town of Magnolia and went to Mississippi State University where she earned a degree in business. She met Steve Williams from Greenwood in college, and they got married in 1997.

After college Williams had a “dream” job in Jackson. She worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi as the wish granter and volunteer coordinator for the program that makes dreams come true for sick children. Williams loved the job.

“I handled the details and planned events for the children’s wishes,” Williams says. “Disney World was the most popular wish.  Some children went on shopping sprees and some got computers.”

After a few years in Jackson, the couple decided to move to Greenwood to be closer to her husband’s family.

“My husband is from Greenwood originally and his parents lived here,” she said. “When we moved to Greenwood, I tried to commute to Jackson to continue working for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work out. So, I went to work for Viking Range and worked there several years before they opened The Alluvian Hotel. When they opened the hotel, they had not hired an events coordinator yet. They quickly realized this was a necessary position. I had some experience in event planning because I had granted wishes and helped with fundraising events for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So, after three years in product management at Viking Range, I transferred to The Alluvian Hotel as their event manager.”

Williams handled event management at The Alluvian for three years and when the general manager left, Williams applied for and won the job heading up the hotel.

Williams is a detail person.

“I often still help with events, especially for someone I know personally,” she said. “I enjoy having a hand in that. I like to plan and organize. It is kind of my thing. I like having a detailed list. Event planning is interesting because each event is completely different. It might be a corporate meeting, a cocktail party or a reunion.”

Most of the guests staying at The Alluvian Hotel come from what they call the “drive in markets” that are a three-to-four hour drive away. There are many visitors from Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Major draws at the 50-room Alluvian, which has a New Orleans style courtyard in the center of the hotel, are their Viking Cooking School and retail store, Giardina’s restaurant and The Alluvian Spa.

“A lot of people come for a few days to experience everything,” Williams says. “They have time to dine at some great Greenwood restaurants, visit the spa, shop downtown, and visit the local winery down the street. And, of course, we have several Mississippi Blues Trails markers and quite a few people come here to visit those. We also have a good amount of international guests that come to see the Blues Trail.”

Managers of the spa, restaurant and cooking school all report to her.

“I make sure we are all on the same page, working together to ensure a great experience for visitors,” she says. “We want to make sure everyone makes the most of their Greenwood experience. We have an excellent museum, the Museum of the Mississippi Delta, that tells about the history of Leflore County. We have a lot of great shopping on Howard Street and in all of Greenwood. Greenwood has several great boutique shops and gift stores including Mississippi Gift Company and Turnrow Book Company, which are both located near the hotel. Turnrow has book signings and readings by authors from all over the country, which is a great activity for hotel guests and locals.”

Turnrow is considered one of three great independent bookstores in the state. Others include Lemuria in Jackson and Square Books in Oxford. Some authors make stops at all three bookstores.

There are also a lot of entertainment options.

“There is always something happening in Greenwood,” Williams says. “We have a lot of activities. The hotel has Tuesday on the Terrace with music and a special appetizer and drink menu on our fourth-floor terrace overlooking Howard Street. Every Thursday we also host happy hour in the lobby lounge with live music and drink specials.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Greenwood also have events throughout the year. The Museum of the Mississippi Delta hosts several art shows each year.

One event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce is the Stars and Stripes Festival, which is held the week before July 4th. People come from all over to participate in the 300 Oaks Race, which includes a 5K, 10K and one-mile run.  In August their Bikes, Blues and Bayous is a big attraction.

“That is a huge event,” she says of the Bikes, Blues and Bayous ride. “We have more than 1,000 riders who come to participate in the ride. The Viking Half Marathon and 5K held each March is also a great event. We have many events put on by our Chamber and different committees plan each of them. We also host a Christmas Parade and Band Festival. Bands come from all over to march in the parade and local groups decorate floats. The parade is followed by a huge firework display over the river. It is a really wonderful event that sets the tone for the Christmas season.”

A new program the Chamber is implementing this year is a Women In Business Council. Williams said the program is just getting started, and is designed to give professional women more networking and educational opportunities.

The Williamses have three children, Mackenzie, 16, Campbell, 12, and Sam, 7. All are very active in sports and school activities.

“The children keep us very busy with different activities,” Williams says. “I also serve on the board of the local Greenwood Youth Soccer Organization. All of my children play or have played soccer. We have a great recreational soccer organization that I enjoy working with. We attend St. Johns United Methodist Church where I help with the children’s mission program. I work with the fourth and fifth graders to help teach them about giving back to others. We try to participate in a few mission programs throughout the year to show these children how important it is to do things for other people.”

When she has time, she also likes to play tennis.