Editor’s note: The News recently sent a list of questions to one of Pembroke’s newest employees, Fernanda Camacho Hauser. Here’s how she responded.
Hi! I’m the new director of Downtown and Economic Development for the City of Pembroke!
My name is Fernanda Camacho Hauser and I recently graduated from Georgia Southern’s Master’s in Public Administration program. I’ve lived in Statesboro since 2017 when I moved down to do my undergraduate studies (double major in international studies and Spanish with a minor in Anthropology) and by the end of my studies I knew I wanted to stay in the area after graduating.
My family is up in Gwinnett County, the neighborhood I grew up in really helped foster my understanding of the importance of having a community. Beyond block parties and more cards for special occasions, this meant that the neighbors know what dish that they made is your favorite, so you were guaranteed a portion or three each time they made it.
When I’m not working, I spend time with my pets; a Manx cat who thinks she’s the center of the universe, a former feral cat, and a 58-pound pup who thinks he’s small enough to fit in all the spots the cats do. When I’m not spoiling them, I like to do some gardening or doing genealogy and research pertaining to some recent genealogical discovery I made.
I’ve been here a little over a month and I get the sense that Pembroke is a city made up of overlapping and crisscrossing communities that all want what is best for not just themselves but the city as a whole. That there is this sense of belonging not just because you are physically here but because you are meaningfully here. And this is the special thing that helped seal the deal for me when I came in for the interview.
Through my role as director of downtown development I hope to help foster that sense of being here meaningfully. My job is to help preserve what is here, see how it can be grown to further serve what we already have here, and then use that to plan and ensure that it keeps growing while making sure that at the end of the day it is still Pembroke. This isn’t something that one person does alone though, there is a whole team here both at city hall, through our volunteers, and elected officials that all work towards that.
My area of focus is the downtown area which isn’t just the row of historic buildings framing the railroad but stretches through North Main Street, North College Street, and across Bacon Street to Dubois Street. On top of that we have the Pembroke Historic District that is concentrated at the heart of the downtown and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The image of the incoming Hyundai plant as something that will take away from what makes this region unique, I think it’s important to look at it as an addition like you might on a quilt. At the heart of the quilt is the railroad town that sprung out of the lumber industry to then push for its incorporation within a few years, and that will never change. The Hyundai plant is just another row in an ever-expanding quilt. We just have to work together to make sure that the squares that are already here are tightly bound to one another, then add a few more to help bridge between our squares and the ones the Hyundai plant will bring in.
The Hyundai megasite has the potential to be a source of customers for our local businesses, a source of jobs for those who live here, and a chance for us to dictate how we grow. But this means we must work together to tend to the squares that are here, by creating communication not just between communities but also with your local government to create and work towards that shared vision and goal.