Nearly two decades have passed since the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce board of directors made a decision to hire a full-time director.
Friends and colleagues who knew Traci Lamar Scates credit her for much of the county's tremendous growth since that time.
Scates, described as one of Dawson County’s great promoters, died April 16 at age 53 in Hall County.
A native of Augusta, she was selected to lead the chamber at a time when local business and government leaders were anticipating potential growth.
“When Traci represented Dawson County, people in Atlanta couldn’t believe little Dawson County had someone like Traci leading the way,” said Philip
Hester, president of Chestatee State Bank and part of the group involved in her hiring.
A graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in business management, Scates made a difference the moment she stepped foot in the community.
“She was smart, well liked and learned quickly in short order," Hester said. "She came to us without a background in promoting, but she adapted, and people thought well of her."
In a 1994 business profile, Scates said she had “a strong desire to get involved in the community and to assist in spurring economic development in Dawson County.”
Hester said the businesses that chose to locate in Dawson County during the 1990s reflected Scates’ direction.
“The industry we have here today is here because of Traci,” he said.
While Scates focused on luring business the Dawson County, she also was instrumental in trying to preserve the county’s rich history. She worked to have the old jail listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
From a small room in the historic courthouse, Scates was part of a group that worked with county officials to renovate the jail to be used as the chamber’s offices.
“Traci worked closely with Sen. Guy Middleton, who was a huge part of us getting state money to assist with the renovation,” said chamber president Linda Williams.
“She was a very big part in organizing all that and making it happen. She was such a lovely lady and did so much for not just the chamber, but for the county itself,” Williams said.
Scates is survived by two sons, Dylan Scates and Lucas Scates.