By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Over the past 10 years, the combination of Cary Vaughn, Diane Baker and Terry Roland have been vital parts in the growth of Millington through their work as execute directors of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce.
But when the 2010s started, Flag City hometown boy Terry Roland was running businesses in Millington and looking to extend his reach in Shelby County by entering politics.
“2010 is a very big year for me to reflect on because it was the year I started running for my first term as County Commissioner,” he recalled. “I never will forget the flood happened right before the election. I forgot about the election and worked to help our people out.
“Everybody thought me putting the election on the back burner was going to hurt me, but it didn’t,” Roland continued. “The good Lord was watching out. I took care of the people first. It made me even more adamant to help out the people once I was elected, especially the people up here.”
Roland was ready to make Shelby County grow and ensure his hometown wasn’t going to be overlooked anymore.
“Because in the past we’ve always been an oversight,” he said, whether its Shelby County Schools (the old version), or for 50 years we have been just looked over. We were given what was left over it there was anything there. I knew in my mind it had been 50 years since Charles Baker had been in office.”
Roland’s work as a Shelby County Commissioner helped lay the foundation for the growth Millington is enjoying today. And since Roland took over for Baker at the Chamber, projects from securing Millington’s flood zones to ribbon cuttings for new business have been frequent.
“That’s where the resiliency grant comes in,” Roland noted. “I’ve worked on that for 8 years with Tom Needham and public works. I’ve always said, ‘We were known as Flag City. But lately we’ve been known as Flood City. I want to go back to being Flag city.’”
During the decade, Roland was behind the scenes of helping Fite Road get extra clearance with the development of Armstrong Road along Highway 51 taking the railroad out of play for motorists.
The baby born January 23, 1961 across from the Strand Theater has grown up with a mission he learned from his parents Carole and Clarence to put service before self.
“I wanted to help the people who raised me,” Terry said. “If it were not for the people of Millington I would not be who I am. From the school on down, this is my home and I am going to give it everything I’ve got.”
Roland the work of others has shown over the past decade.
“First of all, it’s not a real groovy thing people look at,” he said, “It’s our infrastructure and sewer capacity. That’s huge. Your infrastructure drives your economic development.
“We’ve got the only 250 acres site which you would call shovel ready for an industry,” Roland added. “That’s right here off Veterans Parkway as you go over the bypass. That’s that big ole, long wide field with the sewer line running right through it. No other municipality can say that. They might have the line, but the services are not there. We’re ready to hook up and ready to go.”
The other phase of the growth in the 2010s is easy to spot.
“The second thing is the investment in retail with the Shoppes of Millington and Lowe’s coming in,” he noted. “Here’s something that we’re changing now with these new subdivisions coming up, in 1994 to 96 when the downsize happen and we lost about 15,000 people over night, we were left with about 50 percent rental houses in Millington.
“These commanders that came in after them they were higher paid people,” Roland continued. “They were looking for something coming from Arlington, Va., where it cost a lot to live. They had a windfall of money and were looking for something tangible to buy. We didn’t have something available at the time. And that’s something we’re correcting now.”
Roland said more residents in Millington means more students for Millington Municipal Schools. That growth will also means more money for Millington Central High School, Millington Middle School, Millington Elementary and E.A. Harrold.
Other things still in the works are projects like Whataburger. Roland said first job in the previous decade kept him busy. His responsibilities at the end of the 2010 kept him moving just as much.
“What you’re going to see in the next 10 years is explosive growth comparable to Collierville, Bartlett,” he said. “You’re going to more houses coming, more retail. We’re openly talking to Sam’s and Costco. I’m talking with Jack in the Box. We’ve got Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffle House coming.”
Waffle House will be on corner of Cuba Millington in front of the former Fred’s location on Highway 51. KFC will be on the southwest side of Highway 51 at West Union. And down the line, Jack in the Box will be next door.
“Invest in our schools,” Roland transition to. “When I say invest in our schools, we need to vocation back and we’re heading that way. We need to push and invest in this airport out here.”
Roland envisions the Millington Memphis Airport growing enough to help bookend Memphis International on the other side of the county.
Roland said all the growth in Millington is an overall investment in the city’s most precious commodity – the children. He said all phases will make Millington a better place to call home.
“We’re already investing in our schools, in businesses, in our community by building more homes and better apartments,” he concluded. “If we get that airport going, we could really boom.
By Thomas Sellers Jr.