"Jessica is a great asset to the world of economic development. She truly goes to bat for her community and the people who live there. She loves what she does, and it shows."
What is your role?
I am the Director of Economic Development and Existing Industry. My role in the organization is two-fold – I am responsible for the recruitment of new industries, and the retention of existing industries. In order to successfully do both, it is important to cultivate relationships with local business and government leaders, regional service providers, and statewide economic developers. While there are some services that we can provide to new and existing industries, our primary role is to make connections between these companies and people that can provide value to their mission.
How did you find yourself in Economic Development?
I was introduced to economic development while I was studying for my bachelors in economics at Georgia Southern University. At the time, I didn't really know what I was going to do with an economics degree. Luckily, one of my class projects was to work with the Savannah Economic Development Authority, which really opened my eyes to the world of economic development. From that point forward, I took the necessary courses to prepare myself for that type of job after college, and I was fortunate enough to begin my career at the Liberty County Development Authority.
You've worked in several areas of Georgia- what have you seen that's consistent about our state?
I think the thing that really sticks out in my mind is what a great team we have in Georgia. I feel like we have a pretty strong set of local economic developers throughout the state, and our regional and state partners are truly amazing. Many of them go above and beyond to help our local communities win, and that is really what it is all about – working together to bring success to our state and communities.
What's your favorite thing about Effingham county?
Effingham County is strategically located in terms of attracting new talent and industry. Our region is rich in history, and amenities, and our school system is continually ranked as one of the top in the state of Georgia. These are things that new families consider when moving into a new market, and these things also help us retain our robust workforce.
The workforce piece is certainly attractive for companies looking to expand or relocate to Effingham County, but our proximity to the Georgia Ports, and two major interstate systems are equally important. All of these things make our jobs a lot easier as local economic developers – we just have to tell the story.
What do you see on the horizon for your region?
I definitely see a lot of growth in Effingham County in the next 5-10 years. We have over 5,000 acres of industrial property throughout the county that are well suited for logistics and manufacturing. With those new industries will come additional jobs, higher wages, and investment, which will lead to more residential and commercial development. The future in Effingham truly is bright.
How do you explain your job to people who may not know what ED is?
I think the best way I’ve found to describe it is that I work for an organization whose role is to create jobs and investment in the community. It can be hard for people to understand, because I think a lot of times people don't know how much work goes on behind the scenes. I’m not sure my parents even fully understand what I do. 😊
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
7 Days Out – World’s Biggest Events