Board Member Spotlight

Angela Smith

Alabama Department of Commerce

Angela Smith is a Senior Project Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce. From 2015-2024, she was the Incentives Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce. During that time, she set up the incentives program and developed the compliance process through a custom-built online incentive portal. She also managed and developed other programs, such as the Growing Alabama and Port Credit programs. Angela recently transitioned into her new role as Senior Project Manager with the Alabama Department of Commerce. In this role, she works to attract business and industry to Alabama while also providing support to the state’s existing industries.

Angela became a member of EDAA when she began working for the Alabama Department of Commerce. She notes that since EDAA is one of their biggest allies and supporters, she says that it is important that everyone at the Alabama Department of Commerce is a member and engaged with EDAA.

When she worked as the Incentives Manager, one project that stands out to her is Blue Origin in Huntsville. That project was one of the early Jobs Act projects and they negotiated the project agreement in person in Huntsville. She says it was thrilling to have to figure out in real time with everyone at the table how to make the incentives for a new program work to the benefit of both parties. Other projects that stand out to her are projects that coupled the Jobs Act program and the Growing Alabama program, such as J.M. Smucker in McCalla and Alabama Graphite in Coosa County.

Angela says that the biggest value of her EDAA membership is the professional development and networking that comes with it. EDAA has given her opportunities to learn and grow in other areas of economic development and understand the big picture outside of her specific focus of incentives. She also notes the network of professional peers that quickly became friends through EDAA. Her transition from Incentives Manager to Senior Project Manager came easily thanks to the relationships she developed, through EDAA, with local developers, utility partners, EDPA, AIDT, ADOR, and others.

Shane Kearney

Alabama Power, Economic & Community Development

Since joining Alabama Power in 1998, Shane has held various roles in marketing, customer service and economic development. From analytics to project management and customer intelligence, his twenty plus years of experience with Alabama Power has prepared him for his current role as the Director of Economic & Community Development. In this role, he oversees the groups existing industry efforts, community development initiatives, industrial site development and manage the Strategic Analytics Team (SAT).

 Over the years, Shane has played an integral part in the recruitment of both international and domestic companies to Alabama. The project teams he has served on have facilitated the investment of over $4.8 billion in CAPEX and the creation of over 7,300 jobs in Alabama. 

Shane is a successful consensus and relationship builder. He works closely with state and local economic development allies to define and illustrate the value proposition for helping Alabama grow.

 He has a dual degree in economics and international studies from American University in Washington, DC, and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (EDI). He has served on the boards of Birmingham Boys Choir, the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement (CARIA) Association, the Japan America Society of Alabama (JASA) and the Economic Development Association of Alabama (EDAA).

Shane has been involved with many impactful projects during his time in economic development. This includes large global companies like MBUSI, Honda, Hyundai, and Arcelor Mittal. However, some of the most memorable projects he has been a part of have been those that located in rural areas like Golden Dragon Copper (Wilcox County), Enviva Biomass (Sumter County), and Westervelt Lumber (Clarke County). He says the transformational effects of these projects in rural areas seem more tangible – you can both see and feel the impacts of these projects in these communities. Playing a role in bringing real, measurable change to these communities has been one of the most rewarding parts of his career.

Shane became an EDAA member when he joined the APC ECD team. Alabama Power has a long history with EDAA. Shane says they have had a great working relationship with the EDAA for many years and appreciates the pivotal role EDAA has in the state’s economic development ecosystem.

Shane says that EDAA provides a unique forum for candid and meaningful collaboration. The economic development professionals in EDAA are a sounding board for best practices and innovative solutions in his field. The conferences and educational opportunities are great resources for members. At the end of the day, it is the relationship building EDAA facilitates is its true value proposition.

Brooks Kracke

North Alabama Industrial Development Association (NAIDA)

Brooks Kracke is the President/CEO of North Alabama Industrial Development Association (NAIDA). Brooks began his economic development career in September 1987 with the North Alabama Industrial Development Association (NAIDA). He left in 1998 to become the Director of the Jetplex Industrial Park at the Port of Huntsville. He returned to NAIDA in his current capacity in 2015.

The North Alabama Industrial Development Association was formed in 1949 to market and promote the 12 county TVA area for industrial development. The association continues the same plan of work to this day. They travel extensively and host events and luncheons for various contacts in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Detroit in order to keep North Alabama “top-of-mind” for project activity. They also attend numerous tradeshows and conferences that we feel will be beneficial to the promotion of the region.

Brooks has been a member of EDAA since 1987 when the organization was known as IDAA. He says it has always been a great organization offering educational, social, and professional development for the ED practitioners.

When it comes to the most interesting projects he’s worked on, Brooks says there are several that stand out in various ways… US Gypsum in Jackson County offered challenging geotechnical issues, McDonnell Douglas/Boeing, now United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Decatur was a great addition to the community and as a leader in the growing North Alabama space industry.  Daikin, Toray, Navistar, TRIS, Lockheed Martin, were all projects that have grown in their respective communities and provides thousands of jobs.

Brooks says that EDAA provides a cohesive common ground for economic developers to rally around the profession. Economic development has evolved over the years and EDAA provides the steady baseline by keeping the business at the forefront of political, educational, and social issues.

Member Spotlight

Ansley Emfinger

Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA)

Ansley Emfinger is a Project Manager with the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA). The Chambers County Development Authority serves as the economic development arm for all of Chambers County. They actively recruit industrial, commercial, and retail opportunities. CCDA also works in Workforce Development, Community Development, and Talent Recruitment and Retention.

Ansley has been a member of EDAA since 2020. She was first exposed to EDAA as a college intern at CCDA when she attended her first summer conference to EDAA in 2018. In 2019, she was honored to have the opportunity to intern with Alabama Power Company in the Economic and Community Development Division through the EDAA Internship Program. Because of the internship, she decided to pursue a career in economic development after college.  She is now nearing three years of being a full-time economic developer. During her three years of membership, she has served on conference committees and on the Education Committee along with being involved in the Young Professionals group.

When asked about the most interesting projects she has been a part of, Ansley recalls June of 2022, when LaFayette, Alabama was designated as a Main Street community. This project was one that Ansley was handed three months into working at the CCDA. The project had been ongoing for over six years but had not been able to be completed. This process was different than most economic development projects. It required community buy in from the beginning. The application process was lengthy and required hours of work and meetings in the community. This process began in November of 2021 and the application was submitted in May of 2022. Once submitted, an in-person presentation by community members was given to a panel of judges. When CCDA was announced in the newly designated class, it was amazing to see and hear the excitement that the entire community had for this “win”. She says this project was not only the most interesting, but also the most rewarding thus far in her career. It has sparked a new excitement and revitalization efforts in the City of LaFayette.

Ansley says that a membership with EDAA provides numerous benefits for CCDA as an organization and for herself as an individual. She says perhaps the most beneficial is the ability to expand their network of contacts across the state. Whether it be relationship building opportunities with our state partners and leaders, or contacts with ED’s across the state to discuss best practices, networking is a huge benefit for EDAA members. The access to education opportunities and legislative guidance are also valuable assets.