Jody Adams remembers riding his bike from his parents’ house across town to Waggoner Mansion as a kid.
Through the years, the Decatur native watched the landscape along the route – as well as across the town – change as storefronts and homes came and went, expanded and rebuilt.
In recent years, he helped facilitate some of that growth and progress as the executive director of the Decatur Economic Development Corp. But after three years, he has resigned to take a job with Double Creek Capital.
Adams submitted a letter of resignation to EDC board members and city officials last week, which said his last day is Friday, Aug. 16.
“It was not an easy decision,” he said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I’ve enjoyed all of the aspects of the EDC, but I am more of the entreprenuerial type. I wanted to get back on that side of it in real estate development, and this opportunity (with Double Creek Capital) was a good fit for my long-term goals.”
With the career change, Adams returns to the field in which he worked prior to accepting the role with the EDC in the summer of 2010.
“All of my experience is in real estate,” he said. “That’s what I studied, and prior to taking this job, that’s all I did. To some extent, you do that with the EDC. But when I took on the job, I had no previous economic development experience, so there were some things I needed to learn and quick. These were new areas for me.”
As the executive director, he served as the first point of contact for prospective businesses. He recruited them, promoted the town’s location and resources and helped them obtain loans, as well as provided demographic information and tracked down real estate for them.
“Our handle on that has really improved,” Adams said in reference to monitoring available real estate. “We’ve strived to find out what’s out there, who has what, who’s moving where, etc. so that we can present our clients with the most accurate, most useful information.”
Other notable improvements made under Adams’ tenure are the relocating of the EDC offices to the old post office, just off of the Decatur square; revising the website; and establishing a logo and brand to market the EDC’s initiatives.
“He has done an especially good job of getting involved in the community and promoting what the EDC is all about,” added Board President Andrew Sandford.
Adams has achieved this through presenting at Lions’ Club, Rotary Club and chamber functions as well as with booths at trade shows.
In addition, he’s made the Decatur EDC’s presence more widely known on the state level by becoming involved and utilizing the resources available through the Texas Economic Development Council.
But, Adams said, the experience he gained in his three years at the helm of the Decatur organization are invaluable.
Among them are the importance of establishing connections with people at all levels, but especially with elected officials.
“Getting that one-on-one contact with our representatives in the Texas House and Senate and even on a national level with Congresswoman Kay Granger is crucial,” Adams said. “This job really requires that. Those are all great folks to know. They are the ones who will help you with the grants you apply for for prospective businesses or whatever else you may need.”
And even though requests weren’t always fulfilled and money wasn’t always granted, some of the most valuable lessons came simply from the experience.
“There are some things you can’t be taught; you just learn by doing it,” he said. “EDC projects are dynamic – the situation is constantly changing, and you have to learn to adapt pretty quickly.”
He’s thankful for the opportunity to have learned, as well as to teach, by demonstrating what the EDC is all about.
“The EDC serves Decatur,” Adams said. “It’s an organization that taxpayers voted for years ago (in 1993). In return, without the EDC, a lot of projects would have never come to Decatur. The EDC’s role is crucial in the development of Decatur.”
Some of the development that occurred during Adams’ time includes establishing Landmark industrial park south of town; relocating from Colorado H2X, which operates a fleet of specialized trucks that excavate with high-pressure water instead of mechanical digging equipment; and working with Karl Klement to extend city utilities to property on the north end of town.
“It has been my privilege having had a part in shaping commercial activity in the area with projects like that,” Adams said. “And there are a lot of opportunities going forward.
“I enjoy getting to see Decatur grow,” he continued. “I never imagined I’d be in a position to help Decatur grow, but I am so grateful to have had that opportunity … The experiences will go with me through the rest of my career.”
Sandford said that the board will begin the process to search for Adams’ replacement at its next meeting, Thursday, Aug. 15.
“He has done an oustanding job,” the board president said. “We hate to see him go, but we wish him well in his future endeavors. We appreciate all of his hard work.”