Announcement – Downtown Development Authority Executive Director
For Immediate Release, September 30, 2019
DAHLONEGA, GA, –– The City of Dahlonega and Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority are pleased to jointly announce the selection of the DDA’s new executive director. Following an extensive search Shannon Morris Ferguson, a communications and marketing professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the public sector, has been named to lead the Authority staff in support of its Board.
Ferguson most recently served as the communications director for the city of Milton, a North Fulton community with a population of 38,000. Most notably, Ferguson served a key role in the launch and growth of Georgia’s 529 college savings plan, a state authority established in 2001 under her guidance. Georgia’s college savings program would go on to accumulate more than $1 billion in assets and more than 100,000 accounts in its first 10 years of operation. Earlier in her career, she served as an urban development coordinator for a downtown redevelopment organization in Birmingham, Alabama.
“We were fortunate to attract some highly qualified candidates for this important position,” said City Manager Bill Schmid. “We believe Shannon brings a unique skill set to Dahlonega that will provide both immediate and long-term benefits to our residents, businesses, property owners and visitors. She is a gifted communicator, collaborator and team builder.”
Ferguson will provide oversight for the city’s award-winning National Main Street Program and its highly successful special events program and will have direct responsibility for guiding the city’s strategic economic development efforts.
“Working together, we’ve been extremely successful in developing a strong downtown business community and promoting both regional and national tourism,” said DDA Board Chair Mike Miller. “A strong economy and real estate market are providing us with a prime opportunity to expand and enhance our economic development efforts through the development of key city properties and that’s where Shannon will come in.”
“As a regular weekend visitor to Dahlonega for many years, I look forward to my new role and serving Dahlonega’s citizens and businesses,” said Ferguson. “These are exciting times with many opportunities and challenges ahead. I look forward to helping preserve Dahlonega’s heritage and charm while fostering new high-quality developments and initiatives.
In addition to more than 15 years in state and local government, Ferguson spent four years at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government where she served as the communications director and provided marketing and communications support to local government projects including an award-winning community rebranding project for a North Georgia mountains community. Ferguson, a native of Birmingham, completed both her undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, receiving her master’s degree in public administration. She relocated to Georgia 20 years ago and currently resides in North Forsyth with her husband and two sons.