Meet Jessie Owensby–Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Cornelia and MPA Student
By Dr. Jaimie Edwards
Jessie Owensby, MPA student, never imagined that her employment with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, or her role as a radio announcer at WCON 99.3 would lead her to a career in public service, but that is where she has ended up, serving the City of Cornelia as the Community and Economic Development Director.
Jessie received her BA in Mass Communications at Piedmont University and is currently finishing up her MPA at UNG with plans to graduate in May 2023. She believes that the MPA program has allowed her to expand her knowledge of the role public administrators’ play in different areas of local government. “I knew what I was doing in my department but going through the MPA program has helped me to understand what is happening in other departments, such as finance and human resources.”
Jessie’s career as the Community and Economic Development Director keeps her busy. She and her staff oversee special events and tourism, business and economic development, downtown development, collaboration with the Habersham County Development Authority, and represent the City of Cornelia in a public private partnership called Partnership Habersham with 65 organizations. In addition to all these responsibilities, Jessie is also in charge of the planning commission for the city where she partners with the city’s building inspector to approve zoning, permits and city planning. Finally, Jessie is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the state’s Department of Community Affairs, Historic Preservation Commission, Urban Redevelopment Agency, Downtown Development Authority and grant writing on behalf of the city.
Jessie’s favorite classes in the MPA program have been POLS 7900: Gender and Public Administration and POLS 7670: Collaboration. “I loved Gender and PA because it is a subject close to my heart. But the Collaboration class has been helpful to me in my career. If I was not interested in collaborating, I could not do my job. Collaboration is key in bringing together all the different organizations that are invested in the City of Cornelia.”