-Shirley set to lead Lumpkin Development Authority
Local businesses have a new advocate in Lumpkin County.
Rebecca Shirley recently took the reigns at the Lumpkin County Development Authority as the new Executive Director and is happy to be back in the town she loves.
"This is my home and I am thrilled to be back serving in the community," said Shirley, who worked with the City of Dahlonega for a decade, most recently as the Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority Director until 2017.
More recently she was a Graduate Assistant for the Carl Vinson Institute of Government where she provided administrative, marketing and research support.
"I genuinely appreciate the contributions the local businesses and industries make to the economic vitality of the community," she said, "and I look forward to doing my part to contribute."
Shirley earned her Master of Public Administration at the University of North Georgia and is also a Captain in the Army Reserve.
She said her background with the Dahlonega DDA has taught her the importance of being present, building relationships and seeing projects through completion.
"I will bring these fundamentals with me, but I am also excited to grow and learn in this new role," Shirley said. "The time I have worked and lived in Dahlonega-Lumpkin County, as well as my other professional experiences related to leadership, team building and communication bring a unique skill set to the Development Authority."
Shirley believes her skill set will help the Development Authority be a valuable partner and resource locally, regionally, and at the state level.
She said she is looking forward to sitting down with local business leaders and discussing the county’s business climate.
"One of my top priorities is to better understand the needs and barriers currently facing existing businesses and industries and work to resolve them," Shirley added.
Shirley takes over the Development Authority position from former Director and State Senator Steve Gooch.
Lumpkin County Commission Chairman Chris Dockery said Shirley is a good choice for the job, thanks in part to her familiarity with the Lumpkin community.
Dockery also pointed out Shirley's experience in the field, as well as her leadership experience in the Army Reserve as factors.
"She is young and energetic," Dockery said, "And she will take us to the next level."
Dockery believes it is a significant opportunity for the Lumpkin County community to have Shirley's level of energy and vision.
"She will foster relationships on a local, regional and state level," Dockery said.
Dockery said along with Chamber President Robb Nichols, Shirley has already reached out to local businesses to develop a strategy to serve the existing business.
In addition, they are constantly working on new opportunities, Dockery pointed out.
He said the future will see a lot of Lumpkin's energy focused around the healthcare industry, "and getting things started around the 400 corridor."
Shirley said she is looking forward to collaborating with community partners to implement the Economic Development Vision and Implementation Plan, which was created a few years ago by community partners.
"This plan is an opportunity to create a road map for our entire community and determine where to focus our resources," Shirley said.
She said she plans on doing a lot of active listening.
"I am eager to understand how we work with our community partners, assess the business environment’s strengths and weaknesses, and establish goals and objectives with the board of directors and our community partners."
Shirley said that when she's not at work, she is likely to spend time with family (who live locally) and her chocolate lab, Rocco, or doing some trail running.