May 10, 2013

Joint Development director takes post with statewide group

Charles Oliver

— After spearheading Whitfield County’s economic development efforts for more than three years, Elyse Cochran-Davis is stepping down as executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority (JDA) effective May 31.

Cochran-Davis said Thursday she is resigning to join the Electric Cities of Georgia (ECG) as director of community and economic development. Atlanta-based ECG is a trade service organization that provides strategic and technical services to cities that operate a community-owned public power utility, including Dalton. She joins ECG on June 3.

Originally from Rockmart, Davis-Cochran came to Dalton in September 2009 after serving as president and chief executive of the Gaston Regional Chamber in North Carolina. She had also worked in economic development in Ringgold and Cartersville.

The JDA completed a number of major projects on Cochran-Davis’ watch, but she said the most significant may be the development of Carbondale Business Park, including securing XL Brands as its first tenant.

“We had a real void in the market of publicly controlled property. That was something our competition had, but we didn’t,” she said. “But with the support of the JDA board and the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners we were able to not only get the park in place.”

The park is one of 27 certified by the Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development program, and one of just two of those sites located on I-75.

“We don’t want to lose her,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said. “But if we have to lose her, it’s good that she’s going to a statewide organization. It speaks well of our choice to hire her, and of course, she is very familiar with our area and our development efforts. Having someone with that knowledge or our area in that position, dealing with statewide development, can’t be anything but good.”

When Cochran was hired, officials declined to release her salary even though the JDA is a government agency, saying she was technically a Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce employee.

Brian Anderson, president of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, could not immediately be reached for comment about plans to hire a new JDA executive director.

Cochran-Davis is one of 470 certified chamber executives in the United States and has completed the Georgia Tech and University of Tennessee Basic Economic Development Courses, as well as the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. She serves on the Georgia Economic Developer’s Association (GEDA) board and on the National Board of Trustees for the United States Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management.