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VIProfile: Bill Jones

Rutherford County Area Executive | Pinnacle Financial Partners

By Lee Rennick

Bill Jones has been invested in the economic and civic development of Rutherford County for most of his adult life. He believes that those who spent their time moving the city forward before him laid a strong foundation from which we have all benefitted, and he has long felt a duty to help build on their hard work. 

In 2003, Jones took on a project called Destination Rutherford with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. Initially a five-year campaign, it was so successful that it continues today. Jones was the chairperson of the initiative for 14 years. During that time, it helped to create more than 24,000 new jobs and bring almost $7 billion in new capital investment to the county. 

Currently in its fifth incarnation, Destination Rutherford brings together public and private investment that is focused on attracting, developing and aligning talent; strengthening job-creating infrastructure and quality of life; and growing high quality jobs and investment from both businesses already doing business in the county and by recruiting new ones. Between 2017 and 2021, the program supported 269 existing businesses with expansion and workforce training and recruited 42 new companies to relocate to Rutherford County. 

“The idea came from a group of people who felt that in order for the area to maximize potential, we needed an organization whose sole purpose was to create a partnership between local governments and the private sector to be successful,” explained Jones. “Murfreesboro, Smyrna, LaVergne, Eagleville and Rutherford County governments all end up being participants in the recruitment of companies to come here or expand here.”

Destination Rutherford brings together these governments, as well as the Industrial Development board and businesses invested in economic growth in the region, to help create an attractive investment package that is deemed appropriate and will hopefully draw the targeted company to come to the county or expand here. 

“It is important that everyone be at the table,” explained Jones. 

During his tenure as the chairperson of Destination Rutherford, he was able to help bring many to the table because of his business and community connections. 

Jones graduated from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in 1982 with a degree in pre-law. His plan had been to go to the University of Tennessee Law School in Knoxville, but he decided he wanted to start earning a living and he went into financial planning instead.From there, he moved to what was then Mid-South Bank into the Trust Department. Mid-South was eventually bought out by SunTrust (now Truist). Then in 1991, he went to Cavalry Banking to help start their Trust Department. He has been there ever since. When Cavalry Banking merged with Pinnacle Financial Partners in 2006, Jones became the Area Executive. 

He has seen a lot of growth and change at the bank, just like he has during his time at Destination Rutherford. In 1991, Cavalry Banking grew to the point where they needed a financial center and they bought what was known as the old J. C. Penny building on the corner of Maple and College across the street from Marina’s Italian Restaurant. They tore down the long-abandoned eye-sore and built what eventually became Pinnacle’s operations center. Then, during the pandemic, the bank said good-bye to the old, leaking Cavalry building that was built in 1972 and built the two-story building that sits across from the operations center today. 

“That was quite an adventure,” explained Jones. “We tore [the old building] down instead of imploding the building because we felt it was best for our neighbors.”

Being a good neighbor is what Jones feels banking is all about. He believes in building strong relationships with clients and with the community. That is why it was so important to do what was best for those two groups when planning the tear down and rebuild. His focus has made him successful. Pinnacle Financial Partners has grown under his leadership.

“My belief is that people bank with bankers, not with banks,” he said. “If you have the best bankers, growth will take care of itself.”

It is obvious that Jones has a deep affinity for both local business and the community, but while he grew up in Murfreesboro, he was actually born in Keflavik, Iceland. He and his twin brother, who is a dentist in Murfreesboro, arrived in the city at the age of three. 

“My father was in the Air Force,” explained Jones. “After getting out of the Air Force, he became an orthodontist and moved here because there were no orthodontists here in 1963, so there was opportunity. The city was a lot different then, then it is now. You couldn’t get in lots of trouble because someone knew your mother.”

Jones and his wife, Kathy, brought up their own children, Alison and Sutton, in Murfreesboro. Recently, Alison joined her mother in business, taking over the ownership of The Peddler from the retiring founders. 

The couple have also dedicated themselves to public service. Jones serves, or has served, the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board, Christy-Houston Foundation, MTSU Jones College of Business, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, MTSU Foundation, Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and its foundation and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Kathy has served for more than 25 years on the Murfreesboro Planning Commission. 

He has received a number of awards for his service. Middle Tennessee Medical Center (now Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital) Foundation named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2012, and he was named Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year in 2007.

“[Kathy and I] feel we are fortunate to be in this place at this time,” added Jones. “And that we have the responsibility to be willing to make ourselves available to help keep it [a great place to live]…We feel that if we benefit, we should give back where we can.”

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