This week, Amanda Edmondson officially started her new position on the City of Dawsonville’s staff as the city’s new Director of Downtown Development, Tourism and Preservation.
In her new role, Edmondson will work to enhance the downtown community and to steer the development in a way that makes the downtown area even better for existing residents and businesses.
“As we make changes we want to enhance the community and support our existing population and not just focus on growth and trying to bring in people but increasing quality of life for the people who already live and work here,” Edmondson said. “I think when you focus on that, any necessary growth that you need can grow out of that.”
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Before moving to the North Georgia area in 2006, Edmondson grew up in Dacula, GA, a town she said is much like Dawsonville in that it is rural but also has a small city. Her family was active in local government there, which she said inspired her to pursue a career in the field.
“My grandpa was on the city council for many years and my grandma was on the planning commission for a long time; they made a really big impact in the community and it really was proof that by participating and caring about your community you can accomplish great things,” Edmondson said. “They really inspired me and got me interested in local government.”
Edmondson went to the University of Georgia to earn her Masters in Public Administration with specializations in public policy and local government, and over the next several years she served in several positions including jobs in Gwinnett County Schools, the Gwinnett County Government and the Forsyth County Government. She and her husband also own and operate a commercial interiors business. All of these past jobs, she said, have helped to prepare her for her new position in Dawsonville.
“I feel that I’ve prepared for this job my entire adult life because I’ve gradually along the way tried to touch on all of these different disciplines – and I love to learn, so I’ve tried to educate myself over the years and get experience in a variety of disciplines,” Edmondson said. “I trust in the Lord, and the Lord just seems to put me where I’m supposed to be at whatever time; He has provided me opportunities along the way to have experiences and to learn from really great people so I’m thankful for that.”
In her new position, she said that she’s excited to be able to use all of these skills she’s learned from her past experiences and to continue learning at the same time.
“Every opportunity I’ve ever had, I’ve been very blessed to work with really good people and learn from really good people along the way — I just can’t stress enough how grateful I am for opportunities that the Lord has provided along the way to work next to or under somebody and learn the things that you can’t learn in a million years of school,” Edmondson said. “There’s a lot of really fantastic people in Dawsonville and I’m excited to work with them and the folks that we’re building networks with outside of that.”
One of the first things she will be doing in her new position, she said, is getting to know the business owners and residents of Dawsonville personally so she can know their needs and desires for the city they occupy.
“It’s one thing where we’re trained to pull demographics and run statistics and all of those things – that’s all really good and really important, but I really don’t think it tells me as much as sitting down with people face to face and seeing what they’re going through and empathizing with them and trying to walk a mile in their shoes,” Edmondson said. “I think that we have so many hidden gems here and my mission is to find the hidden gems and discover the overlooked opportunities and what we’re missing.”
As she works to develop the downtown area and enhance it, Edmondson said that taking these existing business owners and residents’ opinions into account will be paramount for her.
“Our biggest goal is going to be to develop in a way that is going to really enhance the community and I hope really convey along the way that the intent is not to pull attention away from downtown and existing business but to hopefully use that to build momentum for the city so that we can bring attention to the downtown and create something cohesive there that’s going to improve overall the quality of life and the economic condition of the city,” Edmondson said.
In the end, she said that her biggest goal is to help Dawsonville to grow in a way that holds true to the values of the people living in it.
"My biggest goal is to help people love living here and raising a family here — as a business owner and as a mom and as a North Georgia resident, I care about the same exact thing, so I understand that,” Edmondson said. “I’m just really grateful to be working with the great team that’s in place; we have fantastic people at the city, fantastic people at the chamber; I feel like it’s just a tremendous opportunity to build momentum for the whole community. I’m praying that all the opportunities that we have will come together cause it just kind of feels like the timing for everything couldn’t be more perfect.”
Edmondson has lived in the North Georgia area since 2006, and she and her husband Nathan have two children. In her free time, she enjoys cheering for the Atlanta Braves, singing and volunteering at her church, Lighthouse Baptist, and doing anything outside, from hiking to mountain biking to roller skating.