Walker County Chairman Shannon Whitfield announced the hiring of Stephanie Watkins as the county’s next director of Economic Development. Ms. Watkins began her new role earlier this week.
Ms. Watkins is an economic development professional with over 18 years of experience working with state and local governments and other economic development professionals.
Most recently, she coordinated regional economic development projects across 22 counties for the Southeast Industrial Development Association (SEIDA), helping industry navigate local, state and private considerations for site development.
In her new role, Ms. Watkins will lead Walker County’s efforts to improve employment opportunities in the county by recruiting new business, servicing existing industry and redeveloping brownfield sites. “I am looking forward to serving Walker County, working to facilitate capital investment and job creation that will provide economic opportunities for our citizens,” she said.
“This is a big moment for Walker County,” said Chairman Whitfield. “We currently have a diverse group of companies exploring development opportunities in this region. Stephanie’s project management experience and business recruitment skills will be essential to ensuring these and other opportunities will be a good match for our community.”
Ms. Watkins assisted with the recent expansions of Lodge Manufacturing, Colonial Chemical and Valmont Utility in Marion County, Tn. Growth at the three existing companies will add nearly 350 jobs. She also helped recruit automotive companies Mann + Hummel USA, Inc. to Dunlap, Tennessee and HP Pelzer (Adler Pelzer) to Athens, Tennessee, resulting in a combined $43 million in capital investment and the creation of 350 jobs.
Along with serving as program director for SEIDA, Ms. Watkins has project management experience with the Southeast Tennessee Development District and Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority. She has completed the University of Georgia’s Development Authority Board Member Training, the Georgia Academy for Economic Development Regional Economic & Leadership Development program and became a Tennessee certified economic developer in 2019.