Former Jackson County Economic Development Authority (JCEDA) CEO Dus Rogers announced his plans for retirement in June, 2016.

Rogers had held the position since September 2001. Prior to Rogers being hired, Tuscon Roberts held the position from  1988 until 1993 and David Thornell held the position from 1993 until 2001.  
Following Roger’s retirement, the JCEDA board elected to hire Gary Chandler, who was the previous  President and Chief  Operating Officer of The Alliance in the City of Corinth and Alcorn County, Miss. However, Chandler resigned from the position in February, 2017.
The JCEDA elected to appoint Shelia Shepard as  Interim President/CEO in March, 2017. In June, the EDA position was posted for applications. Shepard has been working in the EDA office since 1988. She began there as an executive assistant and remained in that position until 1990. In 1990 Shepard took time off to finish her college degree. Since returning in October 1993 she has served as Vice President of the EDA.  Shepard is a graduate of the Intensive Economic Development Training Course at Auburn University; a graduate of the three-year program of the Economic Development Institute through the University of Oklahoma; a Graduate of TVA’s Rural Leadership Institute and has attended  training conferences several times per year sponsored by the Economic Development Association of Alabama, Tennessee Valley Authority and the North Alabama Industrial Development Association.
Shepard reports that since being appointed by the EDA board, she has worked diligently to bring expansions of existing business and new business into Jackson County, continuing something she has done for almost 25 years.  One of the largest projects has been the Mohawk project. Shepard stated that during the summer and fall the EDA office worked with Beaulieu to save their facility. However, after the company determined that it would close a portion of their industry, Mohawk contacted them and worked with the EDA to purchase and upgrade to state of the art equipment. Mohawk Industries is the largest flooring manufacturer in the world with plants in 29 states. The industry is a  Fortune 500 multinational company that employs a diverse workforce of over 34,000 worldwide. This  project saved several quality, good paying jobs and will bring additional jobs to the county over the following three years.
Shepard stated that there have been approximately six new project proposals sent to  TVA, North Alabama Industrial Development Association and that State over the past three months, including requests for proposals from the three. There are also several expansion projects in the works for our county, including four current expansions. Shepard explained that even with expansions of existing industry, there is still competition. Many of our local industries have plants located in other states.  During 2016 the EDA office assisted in four expansions with capital investments of $23.3 million. During 2016 the EDA office assisted in the expansion of seven existing industries and helped create 205 jobs in new industries.
When asked about the tax incentives that are given to new and existing industry, Shepard explained, “Even with tax breaks and incentives given, these companies are paying into our communities with local lodging, local purchases and payroll taxes. You have to weigh out the cost benefit over a ten year period.”
Shepard explained that the EDA office is currently working with IMPACT learning center and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce on workforce development needs in our county. They are also working with the City of Scottsboro on the new Alternative Sentence Coordinator job that will help those looking for work, find work.
When asked his thoughts, Jackson County Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges stated,   “Shelia has done a great job in her career with the Jackson County EDA.  A large contribution has been her work with local industry and the growth we have seen with local industry over the past several years.  She continues to do a great job as interim director. In regard to hiring process, I understand that they are taking applications and will go forward from there.  I trust that they will work to find the best candidate for the job and that we will choose a path to keep Jackson county moving forward. In making any decision the number one goal should be what is best for Jackson County.  To review who we are and where we want to be as a county and to ensure that we are making the right decisions to get us there.”
The EDA job posting ends on July 15. Shepard has applied for the position.


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