I specialize in financial services and work directly with companies to showcase the region to attract jobs and capital investment. I also lead our regional strategic planning efforts and oversee our marketing, research and investor relations teams.
I stumbled into economic development through an internship while I was in college in Hamilton, Ohio. It’s been just over 23 years. I moved here 16 years ago and met this guy named Jerry Mallot (the retiring president of JAXUSA Partnership) and I’ve been at the Jacksonville chamber ever since.
I love showcasing the region to someone who’s never been here or thinks they know Jacksonville but really don’t. Just watching them be amazed by what they didn’t know about Jacksonville is the best part.
Everything’s driven by talent these days, so a lot of our research and time is spent really digging into a project and understanding what they’re looking for and demonstrating that we have the capacity to meet that need. The way we shine is by introducing them to companies that are successful. They may not be direct competitors but at least are similar so they can relate to their experiences.
Although we promote the entire Northeast Florida region, Downtown is our showpiece. That experience of being able to bring people Downtown and have them feel the vibrancy that we all so want for Downtown will be a turning point for the whole region.
There are some great people stepping forward to make investments Downtown that are already familiar with the area. When we hit the radar of investors from the outside, that’s the turning point.
I have two teenage boys. My fun involves a lot of attending their lacrosse and basketball games in various gyms and fields across the region. We love to travel, so every year I take them on what I call an “epic trip.” We went to Breckenridge this year – I went skiing, they went snowboarding. We’ve gone on cruises, to New York, D.C. We’re working on the next plans. We have fun planning together.
I try to read, that’s my quiet time. I don’t have one favorite author. I have a book club. I read books about interesting people whose lives are nothing like mine.
My parents live a couple of miles from me. They moved down from St. Louis about seven or eight years ago. That’s been great. I wanted to be a teacher at first – my mom was a teacher and guidance counselor – and then I moved on. When I went to college I wanted to go to law school. I could have found a very interesting law path, I’m sure.
Law school would have been great, but looking at the hours and the lifestyle, this has been a lot more fun. What I love about this work is no two days are ever the same, and no two companies are ever the same, and no projects are ever the same. The variety and the people are what make it so special. So far, I’m having fun. As long as I’m having fun, I’m going to stick with this.
About Cathy Chambers
Title: Senior vice president, Strategy & Business Development
Organization: JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of the JAX Chamber
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Public Administration, Miami University, Ohio; MBA, Xavier University;
Family: Sons Luke, 14, and Nathan, 12, and dog Kobe
Hometown: St. Louis
Hobbies: Travel, reading