“Times change, sometimes dramatically, so towns big and small have to adjust and find their niche,” said Kevin Donaldson. He serves as executive director of the Clay County Partnership Chamber of Commerce. “Celina and Clay County are already a great place to live. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our quality of life. We aim to make the best use of what we have to offer both our residents and visitors.”
“Times change, sometimes dramatically, so towns big and small have to adjust and find their niche,” said Kevin Donaldson.
Following the formation of Clay County, Celina wasn’t officially incorporated until after 1900, but it was a “town” long before that. It was the site of Civil War fighting and was named after Celina Fisk, the daughter of Middle Tennessee pioneer Moses Fisk. Fisk was something of a renaissance man, founding the Fisk Female Academy at nearby Hilham in 1806. It was said to be the first such institution in the South.
Heavy Industrial Presence
Times changed in the mid-1990’s. The worldwide economy affected even small towns like Celina and others across the nation. The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) eventually sent millions of “light” industrial jobs to other parts of the world, and it hit Clay County hard. Hundreds of garment industry jobs slowly trickled away. As a result, Celina and Clay County had to undergo another identity change.
The town, county and residents underwent some serious changes after the mass exodus of the garment industry, and things are still changing today. Despite the many changes through the years, the town has held onto what you might call a bit of “Mayberry” charm.
Donaldson, a native of Clay County, says there’s no better place to be.
“I was able to go to Tennessee Tech University, get a degree and come back home to work. I married a local girl and we raised a family,” Donaldson said. “I’m grateful for that opportunity, and I just love being a part of Clay County. As we like to say, it’s a great place to live, work and play. Our goal is to make Clay County an even better place to live, and to attract as many jobs and visitors as we possibly can. I think Celina and Clay County have the absolute best in what people think of as small-town America.”
The downtown area has seen the beginning stages of a facelift, with help from local government and the local Three-Star Committee.