Chelsey Everett – My Journey to Economic Development (and why I’m still there!)
It’s hard to believe I’m heading into my 6th year in Economic Development. When I completed the Master of Science in Economic Development Program at USM in December of 2014, I had no idea what the future held. I ended up job hunting for months before I landed a marketing job as a Referral Coordinator for Clearview Recovery Center. I loved connecting people to resources and the people I met along the way but it I knew it wasn’t THE job. The job that not only allows you to make an impact but also impacts you.
Thankfully it wasn’t but a few more months until I found that job. A few of my graduate school friends spent weeks trying to convince me to apply for this research manager job at the Area Development Partnership. I was familiar with the ADP but had only been at my current job a few months and was taught to stick it out and not “job hop.” However a God-ordained meeting and a bracelet completely changed my mind. (that’s a good story for a different time!)
Regardless, I ended up applying a week before the job closed and was a nervous wreck for my interview. I didn’t think it went well and was sure I wouldn’t be getting. I’m pretty sure Todd Jackson even threw out the question to name my THREE biggest weakness. Here I was having prepared on how to turn one of my weaknesses into a quirky workable semi-strength and now I had to do that with THREE of them? Thankfully by the grace of God and the kindness of Chad Newell and Todd Jackson they gave me a shot and my life was forever changed. I started as a shy data nerd who could make pretty things and now I feel like I’ve always been a part of the ADP and this community has become a huge part of me. In 2019 was even recognized as one of Mississippi Business Journals Top 50 Under 40 and I’m currently serving on the Downtown Hattiesburg Board of Director’s and as the Chair of the Economic Vitality Committee. It’s the coolest thing ever and I’m so grateful for this journey.
I worked in every industry imaginable throughout high school and college: food service, retail, hospitality, advertising, marketing, etc. Throughout all of my work experience, the one constant I loved was getting to meet people, hear about their stories, learning about them and seeing how I could serve them. Now I get to do that every single day for an entire community and any corporation, small business or individual who has a desire to invest in Greater Hattiesburg.
Even six years into this incredible career, I am fully confident that I am walking in what God has called me to do. It doesn’t matter what the day brings, whether it’s mapping, drone flying, data collecting, infographic making or project working; every day brings new challenges, new people and new things to learn. No two days are the same and I’ve been abundantly blessed with a job I love and the best leadership, colleagues, and community I could ever ask for. These people and this community have not only taught me so much professionally about the world of economic development, but they’ve also taught me about me about faith, patience, confidence, and grit. I am thankful to be exactly where I am-– in THE job that allows me to use my gifts to serve those around me in ways I am passionate about.
Here’s to the next six years!
Research Manager, Economic Development