By STEVEN NALLEY
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership has named Austin Shafer as its new Vice President of Membership and Chamber of Commerce.
Shafer returns to his hometown of Starkville from Houston, Texas, where he served as the territory manager for Livingston Furniture and increased sales substantially. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and public relations from Mississippi State University.
Jon Maynard, GSDP president, said Shafer’s responsibilities will include ensuring the satisfaction of current GSDP members, recruiting new members and providing programming and other items to keep members engaged.
“This position needs to be a primary point of contact with the partnership for all our investors,” Maynard said. “Austin is well known in the community, and his personable nature and marketing background will make him a welcome sight in local businesses. We will all be here to support his efforts to give local businesses the added value that the GSDP brings to its investors.”
Maynard said more than 50 applicants applied for the position. Jennifer Gregory, GSDP vice president and chief operating officer, said while she, like Shafer, has “Vice President” in her title, there are differences between the positions, making it important for her and Shafer to work well together.
“Our ability to work as a team was a large part of the interview process, and I am convinced we found the right person for the role,” Gregory said. “Our roles are different in most ways, but the common goal is to grow and improve our community. I am eager to work with such a dynamic and talented individual as Austin. We will work together to create synergy in our approaches.”
Shafer said he was drawn to the position by the opportunity to directly influence his hometown community. He said he was happy to join the GSDP team, and he wants to diversify Starkville’s profile of businesses.
“I think they need more local business,” Shafer said. “Franchises are wonderful. They come in and they bring money to the community, but I love seeing a local person, a small-town business, come in and thrive.”