About Shelley Davis
Hometown: Born in Marietta
Length of time in Gainesville: Raised in Gainesville since before there were chain restaurants here (about 1987)
Education: North Hall High School graduate, Gainesville State College former student, and continuous professional training advocate
Occupation: Vice president for existing industry at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce
Most interesting job: “Interesting” is an understatement to describe the year I had an in-home day care
Family information: I am the proud wife of Chris Davis, Hall County fireman/EMT and soon to-be paramedic; and proud mom of Chele’ and Cassie, our teen girls; and of course also mama to Droopy and P-nut, our dogs.
Each Monday, “5 Questions” asks someone in our community to answer five questions about their lives. If you know someone who would be a good subject for this feature, send their name and contact information to email@example.com.
Shelley Davis spends her days working with the myriad industries that make up Hall County’s industrial base. As vice president of existing industries for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Davis sees first-hand how the economy is affecting local businesses and what they need to thrive. Today The Times asks Davis five questions about economic development.
1. How has the recession changed the way you deal with existing industries in Hall County?
The recession sent us all into overdrive as it became about survival. During the downturn, many companies with multiple locations survived by consolidating. Gainesville-Hall County locations were fortunate to “win” close to 90 percent of the consolidations so that during this downturn, we were experiencing new capital investment and the retention of jobs that would have otherwise been lost if the company had consolidated to another location.
Additionally, the strained times really lit a fire for innovation and efficiency which will benefit us for years to come.
Fortunately, most segments have transitioned from survival mode to adjustment to redefined success.
2. What advantages does Hall County have over other areas when it comes to attracting — and keeping — industries?
You can’t imagine how important a pro-business attitude is in front-line and behind-the-scenes leadership to attracting and keeping existing industries. It is a real testament when a prospective company considering locating somewhere in the Southeast sits down with one of our Gainesville-Hall County existing industries for a frank discussion and comes out saying Gainesville-Hall County is the place for my company. The clustering effect works in our favor too — a new industry sees our base and says I can succeed too in this community.
Of course our proximity to Atlanta is very beneficial. I will note that most would say quality-of-life first, and we’ve got it for sure, but that is not a primary driver. Quality-of-life is a strong benefit to attract talent once a company is already located here. Workforce characteristics are key!
3. What do students in our area need to do to be prepared to work for local industries?
Gone are the days where manufacturing was just looking for a warm body. Industries are overall high tech with a just-in-time focus. At the minimum, a high school diploma or GED are required. Industries are looking for and paying for skill whether it is learned through hands-on experience, God-given talent, or a degree or certificate say from Lanier Technical College’s Manufacturing Innovation Center in Oakwood. Above all — show up on time and ready to work; a lot can be overcome by the right attitude.
4. Are there certain types of industries that we should recruit to Hall County to best complement our existing industries, or is diversity better?
We are so fortunate that our former leaders had the foresight to know and invest in economic diversity. We are a poultry community. We are an automotive supplier community. We are a No. 1 health care community. We are an international subsidiary community. And more and more, Gainesville-Hall County is looked at as a prime location for North American headquarters. Diversity is key!
5. What part of your job is the most interesting?
Matching existing resources to an industry need expressed during a one-on-one meeting because we have established a relationship of service and trust is quite gratifying. I also enjoy having the freedom to create new resources and programs when I hear an expressed need from multiple industries. I cannot leave out managing the Drugs Don’t Work program because I know that it has an impact on people’s personal lives. I can work all day long to meet quotas, but what really matters is the individual’s quality of life.