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Harp hired as Atmore chamber executive director

About four years ago, Emily Spurlock Harp took in the annual Christmas parade in Atmore and fell in love.

Harp, of Jay, Fla., is back in the railroad city as the new executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce. She began her new role early this month.

Prior to Atmore, Harp ran an insurance firm for 13 years, and then took over as an administrative manager for Gulf Coast Pain Institute for the last four years.

She lives in Jay, graduated from Jay High School and went to the University of West Florida and Pensacola State.

Harp said before she came to Atmore for the parade some four years ago, she had never been here.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I attended the Christmas parade, and it was just magical. Ever since then, I’ve just loved this city. I think it’s the most darling, quintessential city.

“Atmore is the epitome of what you think a home town should be,” she said. “There are still exciting things happening, and it’s still a warm place.”

A go-getter by heart, Harp said she loves building things.

When asked where she gets her go-getter spirit, she said it came from her parents.

“I am really blessed to have really amazing parents,” Harp said.

Her go-getter spirit was on full display between her job at Gulf Coast Pain Institute and the chamber.

Harp said she gave herself about an eight-hour pat on the back before facing a new day at the chamber.

“I do have an inner drive,” she said. “I would also say it was fostered by my parents. For whatever reason, I want to leave a legacy, and I can’t really tell you where it comes from, but it’s strong. It’s never enough.”

As the leader of the chamber, Harp will be able to instill her vision for Atmore.

She said she has some goals, but the main goals are to facilitate change, growth and revitalization.

“I want to see Atmore full of life,” she said. “I want to see Main Street where people are walking down the street visiting our stores. I want industry to come in, and store fronts full.”

Additionally, she said she wants something unique, an experience.

“Right now, if you think of downtown Pensacola, it’s an experience,” she said. “I want Atmore to be that for this tri-county regional area.”

Harp said the move to Atmore was a gutsy one, but she now knows it was the right one.

“I am beyond excited to be here,” she said. “I think one of the things I was very anxious about was to make this move. It was a leap of faith and a gut feeling, like something you feel lit in your soul and your gut, and this is where you’re supposed to be.”

Harp said she told the chamber board of directors that the new mantra is to “dream big.” She said there is a hash tag for the mantra — #dreambig.

“We’re going to have so much fun,” she said. “The chamber you know today is not going to be the chamber you see in a year. There are a lot of exciting things happening.”

Harp has two children, Caroline Elizabeth, 13, and Samuel Clayton, 11.