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Brown new president of economic development board

By John Miller, 03/16/22 7:31 PM

PRESCOTT – Lauren Brown, vice president of commercial loans at Farmer’s Bank, has been named president of the Nevada County Economic Development Board of Directors.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning in the bank’s conference room. Brown takes over for John Brannan, who was president of the board more than 20 years and helped start the organization. The board’s mission is to create and retain wealth and opportunities for residents of Prescott and Nevada County. Brown is the first woman to hold this position with the board.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, said there are two factors when looking at for the president’s job – commercial and business development for the community. The community aspect involves leadership, workforce  development, and the social and physical infrastructure of the community. On the business development side, the idea is to create new jobs and retain and expand existing business and industry, while working to develop new businesses and develop tourism for the area. Godwin said the county is lucky to have the Civil War Prairie D’Ane battlefield and White Oak Lake.

Brown has been in Prescott around 15 years, coming from Malvern. She graduated from Southern Arkansas University with degrees in accounting and finance and is a certified public accountant. In graduate school she earned a degree in banking from LSU in 2015 and has been with the bank for 14 years, starting with the Bank of Prescott and continuing when it changed hands and became Farmer’s.

She is married to Ryan Brown. They have three sons, Jace, 17, Hooks, 11, and Haze, 9.

Brown said Godwin is doing a good job with the EDO, and she hopes to continue, but offer a fresh, new perspective to her role as board president.

“We’re excited to have someone with a new look,” Godwin said, adding there will be three new board members in Ivory Curry, Lee Doucet and Nevada School Superintendent Roy McCoy. She continued saying the board is inclusive and diverse bringing different perspectives from various parts of the community.

Brown will undergo training for her new post, but said she’s looking forward to it. “I live in this community and want to help where I can.”

Economic Development, Godwin, said, is about working as partners and everyone needs to be on the same page, as they’re all working toward the same goal. She added this board works well together, adding it’s nice to be able to get in touch with other members on short notice because this is such a small community. Godwin said some communities this size and larger don’t work as partners or see growth.

The number one thing, she continued, for economic development in Prescott and Nevada County is to retain the businesses and industries already here. She named Firestone, Hines and the schools as the largest industries in the county. Godwin talked about how the EDO works with entrepreneurs to develop new business, though all of these don’t work out.

The top two industries in the state, she added, are tourism and agriculture. The Nevada County Depot Museum and EDO are working to develop the battlefields to increase tourism in the area. Having a state park (White Oak Lake) in the county also helps bring people in. However, she pointed out, the biggest challenge is to get local residents to shop local.

Another aspect of economic development, she said, is grant writing. The EDO, since its inception, has obtained more than $15 million in grant money for various things.

In talking about Leadership Nevada County, which Brown is a graduate of, Godwin said it’s important to train leaders to take over and fill positions in the community. “We need young people and diversity,” she said. “I look forward to Brown being involved with the leadership program.”

When asked how she got the position of board president, Brown said there was an opening with Brannan retiring and the two talked about her doing the job. “I’m happy to do it. I’ve met a lot of people through Leadership and learned how things operate in the community. While president of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, I got to work with the EDO for a year and liked it. I hope to bring longevity to the role and use my training and background in banking.”

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said Brown is a smart, intelligent young lady with plenty of banking experience. “I look forward to working with her. The Browns are a community-oriented family.”

Other members of the board are: Carl Dalrymple, Curtis Lee Johnson, Shane Meador, Howard Austin, Mark Glass, Janet Sanford, Jamie Hillery, Laura Bradley/Billy Hines, and Robert Poole.