Rowell accepted the president and CEO position with the Development Authority of Polk County in late May. At a goodbye party held June 20, her former boss, Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon, highlighted Rowell’s career, which includes dozens of projects ranging from the Highland 75 industrial park to the recent announcement of Surya moving to Bartow County. Lemmon, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, members of the Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority and private sector colleagues all thanked Rowell for the hard work she put into building Bartow’s economy and wished her well in Polk County, where she will start working in July.
“I’ve had the great pleasure of watching you for 10 years now, almost, grow into the role, and I told Connie [Salter] this yesterday, you’re ready to lead your own ship,” said JDA Chair James Jarrett when Rowell’s departure was announced at a June 5 meeting. “Although we’re a little concerned about the competition, I’m extremely excited about the fact that we’re helping to build the economic progress of our region.”
Name: Rachel Rowell
Occupation:President and CEO, Development Authority of Polk County
Family: Husband, Troy Rowell; sons, Caleb and Eli
Education: Kennesaw State University, master’s degree — public administration; Berry College, bachelor’s degree — family and consumer sciences
How did you become involved with economic development?
A: I applied for the Chamber’s membership position back in 2004 and in looking at my qualifications, they suggested that I apply for the open economic development specialist position and the rest is history.
As the former existing industry director with Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development, what do you believe area businesses should be more aware of when it comes to the department and its mission?
A: The Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development department exists to help new and existing industries to succeed and grow in the community. Most of the growth — jobs and tax base — comes from existing industries. In that position, I tried to spread the word that the department was there to help them connect with resources available to them whether it be the technical college, Georgia Tech, department of labor or various state or local departments. Many industries do not realize the resources and incentives that are available to them and often do not have the time to explore these options because they are so busy making their business successful.
What is the most memorable project you worked on in Bartow County?
A: There have been so many projects over the years and all of them have had their memorable quirks. I am hoping that a couple of the projects I was working on when I left the department come to fruition as they were very special to me.
Is there a project that you worked on in the past 10 years that got away and you would have liked to have landed?
A: The projects we work on are more often than not, very labor intensive, so any project we lose is discouraging. The Lowe’s distribution center would have been a nice addition to our community, as would the Starbucks facility that landed in Augusta. However, we are incredibly fortunate to have the companies we do have.
What will you miss most about working in Bartow County?
A: Aside from the people I’ve worked with, I will miss the atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration that the community leaders have worked so hard to achieve over the years. The impression that positive attitude leaves on the projects and brokers that visit and our economic development team is invaluable. It makes the department’s job that much easier.
If you had a dream job, what would it be?
A: In college, I took a career aptitude test that suggested I should be a coal mine supervisor or a construction superintendent. While I’m not sure about those industries, I do like to solve problems and figure out unique ways of getting to a solution.
What is your greatest achievement?
A: Working full time while raising two wonderful boys and being married to my best friend.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m a closet thrill seeker. I love roller coasters and eventually want to ride all the extreme coasters in the U.S. Skydiving is also on my bucket list, but after my boys are grown.
Do you have a personal motto?
A:I am borrowing this from a dear friend of mine: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby
If you were to write your autobiography or memoirs, what would the title be?
A: Redheads for Dummies: a personal, professional and peculiar guide to the genetically mutated.