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Chafin named state’s top ‘economic developer’
Award is for 'professionalism, integrity, leadership, commitment, and contributions to the profession'
Anna Chafin
Anna Chafin

Anna Chafin has had a pretty good year so far in 2022.

It got even better Friday. Chafin, the CEO of the Development Authority of Bryan County, was given the Georgia Economic Developer’s Association Rip Wiley Award for Professional Excellence, the “highest honor bestowed by GEDA on a professional economic developer,” GEDA announced Monday.

That honor, which is named after a former director of industry at the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, was established in 1978 after Wiley passed away. It is “to be presented to the person in economic development who best represents his spirit of excellence.”

Chafin is “being recognized for her professionalism, integrity, leadership, commitment and contributions to the profession,” GEDA said. She was presented the award during a banquet in Atlanta.

In an email, Chafin said she “was extremely honored,” to receive the award, adding “GEDA has been a constant in my almost 20-year economic development career. The organization has given me a tremendous opportunity to learn about best practices in the profession, grow as a leader, and develop a strong network of contacts, many of whom have become good friends.”

Chafin, a Mercer graduate, has been at DABC since 2013. Since then, state and local officials say she’s been key to bringing jobs to Bryan County and the region, and her work as part of the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Development Authority was instrumental in bringing Hyundai Motor Group to the Bryan County Mega-Site.

Tripp Tollison, CEO and president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, has worked on the JDA alongside Chafin and others to bring the $5.545 billion in investment and some 8,100 jobs to the four-county region represented by the JDA. Hyundai’s plans to build some 300,000 EVs annually by early 2025 is said to be the largest single economic investment project in the state’s history.

Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties comprise the JDA.

“We are very excited for Anna. This is a great achievement for her and one that she should be very proud of,” Tollison said in an email. “There are very few people who works as hard as she does while exemplifying honor and integrity.

The caliber of the previous Rip Wiley Award recipients just went to a higher level by adding Anna’s name.”

Chafin said she’s been blessed by both her professional and personal relationships.

“As a local economic developer, I have been blessed to work with some incredible individuals who have pushed me to be the best version of myself personally and professionally,” she said. “For the past nine years, I have been pleased to serve with a fantastic board and staff at the Development Authority of Bryan County, who fully support and encourage me. In addition, I am very thankful to my husband, Justin, and son, Samuel, for providing me with continued love and support even when I am away from home traveling for work, which has been a lot, specifically the past year.”

Much of 2022 for Chafin was spent helping bring Hyundai to Bryan County, and GEDA recognized the JDA for regional deal of year as a result.

Chafin called that an honor as well. “So many people worked very hard on this project, and we are extremely grateful to our local, regional, and state partners who helped make this happen. We are also very thankful to HMG for selecting our region and putting their trust in the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority and the state for Georgia for the largest economic development project in state history.”

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