The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

December 30, 2012

Person of the Year Mary Jamerson’s ‘small differences’ make huge impact

President of local auto dealership invests deeply in community

ANDERSON, Ind. — Mary Jamerson’s mother, Anna McCracken, was a strong, hard-working, God-loving woman who taught her daughter to be the same.

“I grew up with it being part of who I am,” Jamerson said. “We’re all kind of blessed with our own unique special skill sets, and those are for giving back in some way.”

As president and CEO of Myers and Ford Autoworld, Jamerson has promoted a culture of community service that has elevated the roles of women and has led to new jobs, tens of thousands of dollars in donations and scholarships to area schools and a commitment to building a new $7.5 million auto dealership campus in Anderson in 2013.

In her off hours, Jamerson serves on a number of boards, including those for the Flagship Enterprise Center, the Corporation for Economic Development of Madison County, and Community Hospital Anderson.

That’s part of why she’s The Herald Bulletin Person of the Year for 2012. The award is given by The Herald Bulletin’s editorial board, which considers nominations from readers.

“I can just think of so many who deserve it more,” Jamerson said humbly.

One nomination came from Autoworld general manager Stan Horner, who’s worked under Jamerson’s leadership for more than 23 years. He said he admires her love of Anderson and her “rare dedication to its betterment.”

Jamerson’s a local girl. She went to Anderson High School when it was still near downtown. She lives with husband Paddy and has kids and grandkids in Pendleton.

“I’m lifelong, so I have a true love, a genuine love of the community,” Jamerson said.

She was promoted to president and CEO of Myers Autoworld in 1988. In 2009, when the country was deep in recession, Jamerson opened Ford Autoworld.

“I embrace change if I see some positive in it,” she said. “I think I have a responsibility to give back, and I want to.”

Jamerson focuses on helping build a “good social safety net in our community.”

“To me, those are gaining and retaining jobs, education, and the other one I feel I can make a contribution to is health care,” she said.

Since 2001, the dealership has dedicated November sales and service profits to a local charitable organization through its Champion for Charity program. This year, profits went to the Christian Center, Alternatives Inc. and Bountiful Harvest.

“We reach out to organizations in the community that we know are doing good things for people, and we want to help them do more,” she said.

Jamerson, with help from The Herald Bulletin, also champions the annual Athena Award, which recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the community.

“The irony is that no one is more deserving of (the Athena Award) than Mary,” wrote Keith Trent, vice president and chief foundation officer at Community Hospital Anderson, in his person-of-the-year nomination of Jamerson.

Ford Autoworld’s “Drive One 4 UR School” events have raised more than $33,000 for local high schools since 2011. The events also provide money to sponsor scholarships at Ivy Tech Community College and Anderson University.

“We try to reach all levels of education,” Jamerson said, whether that be high school, college or trade schools.

This year, Jamerson made another huge contribution to local education, donating the Ford dealership building to Anderson’s branch of Ivy Tech for automotive training.

That was in November, when she also announced Autoworld would move to the old General Motors Plant 11 site off Scatterfield Road. The plan is to break ground in the first quarter of 2013 and open later in the year. Jamerson expects the auto dealerships to invest $7.5 million and eventually create as many as 30 new jobs.

The move also activates the state’s last-granted CRED — Community Revitalization Enhancement District — zone, which had gone unused for nearly 8 years.

In a CRED district, the city can collect any sales tax that would normally go to the state. That money will go toward infrastructure within the district, making it more attractive to other developers.

That’s just “another example of her desire to strengthen our local economy,” Trent wrote. He said Jamerson has been “a leading champion of business and supporter of this community for many years.”

Jamerson feels blessed to have been in a business that’s “given me so many opportunities to make a big difference,” she said. “I honestly feel like I’m called to do what I do in the community.”

A poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson says success is “to give of one’s self, and leave the world a bit better.” Jamerson keeps a framed copy on her desk.

“It’s just been the philosophy of my life,” Jamerson said. “I would never have a desk that doesn’t have a copy of it, because I think it reminds us every day to make a small difference.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

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