What appointment do you represent on the board?
I was appointed to the board by the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners.
Why is Economic Development in Transylvania County important to you?
When my husband and I fell in love with Transylvania County and retired here in 2009, we soon realized the vacuum in terms of high paying jobs that was left by the closing of DuPont and Ecusta. Having been blessed with great opportunities during my career with Boeing, I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help increase opportunities for people in this county. We have a son in college right now and he loves the area and would like to come back here to work after graduation so we have a vested interest in helping bring great jobs here as well.
Why did you choose to serve on the board?
This is such a unique, beautiful community; the people as well as the natural beauty. But we know that while all the wonderful aspects of the community like the festivals, bike races and great institutions like Transylvania County Schools, Brevard College, and the Brevard Music Center are thriving, there is an underlying community frustration with the lack of higher paying jobs. This is my home now and I want to be part of the team effort to increase good job opportunities in the county.
How does your background experience help you in your involvement in economic development?
While at Boeing, I did a five year stint in Boeing Ventures, an organization that used intellectual property developed as part of our mainline business, aerospace, to create new commercial startups. I've learned that I can take that experience and apply it to help local Transylvania County businesses grow. The Alliance has been working with Elise Sampson at “Reason To Bake” to help her grow her gluten-free cookie business into a regional brand. While working with her, I was surprised to realize that many aspects of my experience in high tech ventures were applicable to most other businesses. I've really enjoyed working with a social enterprise that has such a worthwhile mission.
In regards to economic development, what is one of the biggest challenges the county faces?
One of the most exciting aspects of serving on the Alliance board is watching the organization focus in on specific challenges and develop practical, data-driven solutions. For example, we have known for awhile that there is a shortage of buildings and sites that would be attractive to the types of businesses that will bring high paying jobs to the area. The recent Property Identification and Evaluation Study the Alliance is conducting is analyzing specific sites and buildings in the county, in detail, in order to develop specific short and longer-term strategies to develop those sites.
What do you see as one of the greatest opportunities for the county?
The best opportunities for higher paying jobs are in the advanced manufacturing sector. If we can cultivate light industrial spaces (sites and buildings) that would be attractive to manufacturers in this industry, we have a great chance of either attracting new or keeping existing businesses as they expand.
What do you love most about Transylvania County?
I would have to say the people are what I love most about this county. I've lived in many places around the country in my life and have felt more at home here than anywhere else. The people here are friendly, faith and family oriented, and very into the outdoors. They come from all walks of life and it is the only place I've ever lived where you can lose your wallet in the grocery store parking lot and almost certainly someone will track you down and return it to you the next day with the cash still in it!