Economic Development Rockstars - Spring 2023

SB&D’s “Economic Development Rock Stars of the South” 1993-2023

Southern Business & Development is continuing its year-long celebration of 30 years of publishing and reporting on economic development in the South with its “Economic Development Rock Stars of the South” from 1993-2023. It is being followed in this issue by “Southern Economic Development Legends.” Those will be inducted at SB&D’s Rural South Economic Development Summit in August in Cleveland, Miss.

We began our 30th anniversary series with a detailed 30-year timeline of the most important economic development stories to emerge in the South from 1993-2023. You can go to to view that timeline.

Part 1
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia

Here, we are featuring the first of three issues of “Economic Development Rock Stars” in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia. Other editions this year will cover the other nine Southern states. The “economic development rock stars” feature (1993-2023) will also be displayed on all of our websites for years to come.

Criteria for naming economic development rock stars

SB&D has a long history of visiting and working with economic developers throughout the South. We have a 30-year database on project activity in each Southern state. The capture of significant projects in the last 30 years is the primary criteria for choosing our “Economic Development Rock Stars of the South,” 1993-2023. Enjoy!


ALABAMA 1993-2023

Angela Till Alabama Department of Commerce

David Echols Alabama Department of Commerce

Greg CanfieldGreg Canfield Alabama Department of Commerce

Hollie Pegg Alabama Department of Commerce

Linda Swann Alabama Department of Commerce

Neal Wade Alabama Department of Commerce

Seth Hammett Alabama Department of Commerce

Anthony Topazi Alabama Power

Elmer Harris Alabama Power

Ken Novak Alabama Power

Leigh Davis Alabama Power

Patrick Murphy Alabama Power

Lee Lawson Baldwin County, Ala. EDA

Robert Ingram Baldwin County, Ala. EDA

Mickey Harbin BellSouth-AT&T

Emily Jerkins Hall Birmingham Business Alliance

Ron Kitchens Birmingham Business Alliance

David Hutchison Butler County, Ala. CED

David Thornell C3 of Northwest Alabama

Tom Wisemiller C3 of Northwest Alabama

Don Hopper Calhoun County, Ala. EDC

Valerie Gray Chambers County, Ala. Development Authority

Phillip DunlapPhillip Dunlap City of Auburn, Ala. Economic Development

Greg Knighton City of Hoover, Ala. Economic Development

Al Cook City of Opelika, Ala. Economic Development

Lori Huguley City of Opelika, Ala. Economic Development

Wiley Blankenship Coastal Alabama Partnership

Rick Clifton Covington County, Ala. EDC

Tucson Roberts Covington County, Ala. EDC

Dale Greer Cullman County, Ala. Economic Development

Peggy Smith Cullman County, Ala. Economic Development

Jimmy Durham DeKalb County, Ala. EDA

Matt Parker Dothan, Ala. Area Chamber

Bill Taylor Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Greg Barker Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Steve Sewell Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Steve Spencer Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Cary Cox Elmore County, Ala. EDA

Leisa Finley Elmore County, Ala. EDA

Mitch Mays Franklin County, Ala. EDA

David Hooks Gadsden-Etowah County, Ala. IDA

Mike McCain Gadsden-Etowah County, Ala. IDA

Paul Meloun Gadsden-Etowah County, Ala. IDA

William R. Greene II Gadsden-Etowah County, Ala. IDA

Brian Hilson Huntsville-Madison County, Ala. Chamber

Lucia Cape Huntsville-Madison County, Ala. Chamber

Dus Rogers Jackson County, Ala. EDA

Nathan Lee Jackson County, Ala. EDA

Shelia Shepard Jackson County, Ala. EDA

Deborah Smith Jefferson County, Ala. EDA

Bethany Shockney Limestone County, Ala. EDA

Tom Hill Limestone County, Ala. EDA

Ted vonCannon Metropolitan Dev’t Board, Birmingham, Ala.

Bill Sisson Mobile, Ala. Area Chamber

Sandy Smith Monroeville-Monroe County, Ala. Chamber

Anna Buckalew Montgomery, Ala. Area Chamber

Ellen McNair Montgomery, Ala. Area Chamber

Randy George Montgomery, Ala. Area Chamber

Cindy Vinson Morgan County, Ala. EDA

Jeremy Nails Morgan County, Ala. EDA

Brookes Kracke North Alabama IDA

Cindy Burns North Alabama IDA

Jason Wright North Alabama IDA

Mike Roberts North Alabama IDA

Tate Godfrey North Alabama IDA

Shaun Culligan Phenix City, Ala. Economic Development

Chase Cobb Pike County, Ala. EDC

Marsha Gaylard Pike County, Ala. EDC

Barbie Peek Port of Huntsville, Ala.

David Roberts PowerSouth Energy

Horace Horn PowerSouth Energy

Jim Brook PowerSouth Energy

Taylor Williams PowerSouth Energy

Connie Bainbridge Prattville-Autauga County, Ala. ED

Patty VanderWal Prattville-Autauga County, Ala. ED

Wayne Vardaman Selma and Dallas County, Ala. EDA

Kirk Mancer Shelby County, Ala. Chamber

James Dedes Shelby County, Ala. Economic Development

Forrest Wright Shoals, Ala. EDA

Kevin Jackson Shoals, Ala. EDA

Susie Heird Shoals, Ala. EDA

Lamar Smith Spire Energy

Mike Swinson Spire Energy

Warren McCullers Spire Energy

Calvin Miller Talladega County, Ala. EDA

Dara Longgrear Tuscaloosa County, Ala. EDA

Justice Smyth Tuscaloosa County, Ala. EDA

David Knight Walker County, Ala. Development Authority


ARKANSAS 1993-2023

Shelley Short Arkadelphia, Ark. EDA

Clint O’Neal Arkansas EDC

Jim Pickens Arkansas EDC

Maria Haley Arkansas EDC

Mike Preston Arkansas EDC

Morris Jenkins Arkansas EDC

Patricia Nunn Brown Arkansas EDC

Rick Pilkington Arkansas EDC

Becky Thompson Arkansas EDC

Bentley Story Arkansas EDC

Ernie Faucett Arkansas Electric Cooperatives

Alan McVey ASU Delta Center for Economic Dev’t

Andrea Allen ASU Delta Center for Economic Dev’t

Frankie Tidmore Gilliam ASU Delta Center for ED

Shawnie Wilson ASU Delta Center for Economic Dev’t

Crystal Johnson Batesville, Ark. Chamber

Graham Cobb Bentonville, Ark. Area Chamber

James Bell Bentonville, Ark. Chamber

Devin Howland City of Fayetteville, Ark.

Courtney Dunn City of Maumelle, Ark.

Jim Sharkey City of Maumelle, Ark.

Judy Keller City of Maumelle, Ark.

Colleen Bailey City of North Little Rock

Robert Birch City of North Little Rock

Ward Wimbish City of West Memphis, Ark. ED

Flave Carpenter, Sr. Clark County Industrial Council

Brad Lacy Conway, Ark. Chamber

Bill Thomas Cross County, Ark. Economic Development

Allison Thompson EDA for Jefferson County, Ark.

Lou Ann Nisbett EDA for Jefferson County, Ark.

Jack McNulty EDA Jefferson County, Ark.

J.D. LoweryNancy Lee McNew EDA Jefferson County, Ark.

Bill Luther El Dorado, Ark. Chamber

Henry Florsheim El Dorado, Ark. Chamber

J.D. Lowery Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas

Kirkley Thomas Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas

Danny Games Entergy Arkansas

Flave Carpenter Entergy Arkansas

Joe Bailey Entergy Arkansas

Michael Mauldin Entergy Arkansas

Sherry McDonnell Entergy Arkansas

Sonny Whitelaw Entergy Arkansas

Steve Clark Fayetteville, Ark. Chamber

Janie Glover Fort Smith, Ark. Chamber

Tim Allen Fort Smith, Ark. Chamber

Clif ChitwoodClif Chitwood Great River EDF, Mississippi County, Ark.

Gary Troutman Greater Hot Springs, Ark. Chamber

Jim Fram Greater Hot Springs, Ark. Chamber

Mark Young Greater Jonesboro, Ark. Chamber

Bob Largent Harrison, Ark. Chamber

John Edwards Helena Harbor & Phillips County, Ark.

Martin Chaffin Helena Harbor & Phillips County, Ark.

Judy Davis Hope, Ark. Chamber

Jay Chesshir Little Rock Chamber

Joey Dean Little Rock Chamber

Ellie Baker Magnolia, Ark. EDC

Kay Brockwell Marion, Ark. Economic Development

Tracy Brick Marion, Ark. Economic Development

Kellie Wall Maumelle, Ark. Chamber

Dani Pugsley Mountain Home, Ark. Chamber

Jon Chadwell Newport, Ark. Chamber

Julie Allen Newport, Ark. Chamber

Nelson Peacock Northwest Arkansas Council, Springdale, Ark.

James Lee Silliman Ouachita, Ark. Partnership

Allison Hestand Paragould, Ark. Regional Chamber

Sue McGowan Paragould, Ark. Regional Chamber

Paul Latture, Sr. Port of Little Rock

Bryan Day Port of Little Rock

Raymond Burns Rogers-Lowell, Ark. Chamber

Steve Cox Rogers-Lowell, Ark. Chamber

Dr. Megan Selman Russellville, Ark. Chamber

Jeff Pipkin Russellville, Ark. Chamber

Paul Harvel Russellville, Ark. Chamber

Buck Layne Searcy, Ark. Chamber

Bill Rogers Springdale, Ark. Chamber

Perry Webb Springdale, Ark. Chamber


FLORIDA 1993-2023

Ginger Barber Baker County, Fla. Development Commission

Becca HardinBecca Hardin Bay County EDA, Panama City, Fla.

Kelly Smallridge BDB of Palm Beach

Sharon Hillstrom Bradenton, Fla. Area EDC

Jim DeGennaro Central Florida Development Council

Sean Malott Central Florida Development Council

Marc Hoenstine Duke Energy Florida

Lynda Weatherman EDC of Florida’s Space Coast

Michael Bobroff EDC of Mid-Florida

Ron Thibodeux EDC of Mid-Florida

Pete Tesch EDC of St. Lucie County, Fla.

Bridget Merrill Enterprise Florida

Gray SwoopeGray Swoope Enterprise Florida

Roger Miller Enterprise Florida

Sena Black Enterprise Florida

Melissa Medley Enterprise Florida

Laura DiBella Enterprise Florida

Steve Mayberry Florida Department of Commerce

Eunice Sullivan Florida Department of Commerce

Paul Sohl Florida High Tech Corridor Council

Randy Berridge Florida High Tech Corridor Council

Ed Schons Florida Power

Scott Luth Florida West EDA, Pensacola, Fla.

Jennifer Conoley Florida’s Great Northwest

Kim Wilmes Florida’s Great Northwest

Cathy Chambers FP&L

Cliff Crut FP&L

Crystal Stiles FP&L

Lynn Pitts, Michael Randle and Judy PittsLyn Pitts FP&L

Rick Byars FP&L

Robin Ronne Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

Bob Swindell Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

David Rodriguez Greater Osceola, Fla. Partnership

William Martin Greater Osceola, Fla. Partnership

Stuart Litvin Hollywood, Fla. Business Council

Aaron Bowman JAXUSA Partnership

Aundra Wallace JAXUSA Partnership

Cathy Chambers JAXUSA Partnership

Jerry Mallot JAXUSA Partnership

Steve Scruggs Lakeland EDC

Allen Cherry Madison County, Fla. Economic Development

Sherri Mitchell Nassau County, Fla. EDB

Steve Rieck Nassau County, Fla. EDB

Jeff Hendry Northern Florida EDP

Kevin Sheilley Ocala, Fla. Economic Partnership

Brett Wattles Ocala/Marion County, Fla. EDC

Crystal Sircy Orlando Economic Partnership

Dave Porter Orlando Economic Partnership

Jennifer Wakefield Orlando Economic Partnership

Ray Gilley Orlando Economic Partnership

Tim Giuliani Orlando Economic Partnership

Bill Cronin Pasco County, Fla. EDC

Frank Tamberrino Pensacola, Fla. Chamber

Mike Frey Pensacola, Fla. Chamber

Buzz David Pinellas County, Fla. Economic Development

Mike Meidel Pinellas County, Fla. Economic Development

Dana Jones Putnam County, Fla. Chamber

Wes Larson Putnam County, Fla. Chamber

Rebekah Arthur Seminole County Chamber

Bill McDermott Seminole County Economic Development

Sue Dick Tallahassee, Fla. Chamber

Bemetra Simmons Tampa Bay Partnership

Chris Steinocher Tampa Bay Partnership

Stu Rogel Tampa Bay Partnership

Dr. Robert Rohrlack Jr. Tampa Chamber

Bea Bare Tampa Hillsborough, Fla. EDC

Craig Richard Tampa Hillsborough, Fla. EDC

Michelle Bauer Tampa Hillsborough, Fla. EDC

Keith Norden Team Volusia County, Fla. EDC

Holly Wiedman The Beacon Council, Miami, Fla.


GEORGIA 1993-2023

Cal Wray Augusta, Ga. EDA

Walter Sprouse Augusta, Ga. EDA

Melinda Lemmon Cartersville-Bartow County, Ga. DED

Misti Whitfield Martin Cherokee County, Ga. ED

Sharon Mason Cobb County, Ga. Chamber

Robert Bennett DA of Columbia County, Ga.

Carl Campbell Dalton-Whitfield County, Ga. JDA

Anna ChafinAnna Chafin Development Authority of Bryan County, Ga.

Peggy Chapman Development Authority of Bulloch County, Ga.

Benjy Thompson Development Authority of Bulloch County, Ga.

Angie Gheesling Development Authority of Houston County, Ga.

Jane Fryer Development Authority of LaGrange, Ga.

Willie Paulk Dublin-Laurens County, Ga. DA

Ryan Waldrep Dublin-Laurens County, Ga. DA

Daryl Ingram Electric Cities of Georgia

Niki Vanderslice Fayette County, Ga. Development Authority

Dennis Chastain GEMC, Atlanta, Ga.

Joe Riley GEMC, Atlanta, Ga.

Charlie Gatlin Georgia Department of Economic Development

Chris Carr Georgia Department of Economic Development

Chris Clark Georgia Department of Economic Development

Pat Wilson Georgia Department of Economic Development

Randy Cardoza Georgia Department of Economic Development

Mac HolladayJ. Mac Holladay Georgia Governor’s Development Council

Jonathan Sangster Georgia Power

Walt Farrel Georgia Power

Kit Dunlap Greater Hall County, Ga. Chamber

David Luckie Griffin-Spalding, Ga. Development Authority

Nick Masino Gwinnett County, Ga. Chamber

Josh Fenn Henry County, Ga. Development Authority

Dr. Eloisa Klementich Invest Atlanta

Jim Shaw Jackson County, Ga. Chamber

Ron Tolley Liberty County, Ga. Development Authority

Glenn Cornell NationsBank

Mike Lott NationsBank

Serra Hall Newton Covington, Ga. Economic Development

Deven Cason Partnership Gwinnett

Kevin Shea Savannah, Ga. EDA

Trip Tollison Savannah, Ga. EDA

Andrea Schruijer Valdosta-Lowndes County, Ga.

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