From her second floor corner office inside the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, President and CEO Brittaney Johnson has a view of the Blue Bridge she and her family used to cross when they’d come visit Owensboro.
The Johnsons relocated from Posey County, Indiana, and crossed the Blue Bridge many times on their way to spend the day in Owensboro and hang out in Smothers Park or go to the RiverPark Center. Now her office is two blocks from that same Blue Bridge.
“I love Owensboro, and my family loves being here. This is where we want to raise our kids,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s been in office for more than a year now, and says the first six months were spent getting to know GO-ECD partners and meeting everyone she could in the community. She toured a lot of plants and facilities, and went to a lot of meetings. But now, she’s settled in, and things are clicking.
Simply put, her role at GO-ECD is to increase the tax base by attracting new businesses and helping existing businesses expand. Brittaney says GO-EDC is only as effective as their collaborations with community partners, such as Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, City of Owensboro, Daviess County, Owensboro-Daviess County Airport, Riverport Authority and local employers.
Johnson talks fast, thinks fast, and moves fast. She can summarize and rattle off the intricacies of the economic climate of the region with gusto: 7,200 businesses total in Greater Owensboro; 150 of which have over 20 employees; the Top 20 employers range between 9 different market sectors; 80% of growth comes from existing businesses. Business attraction, retention, and expansion are extremely important. Innovation and quality of place are the keys to attracting talent, creating new jobs, and bringing new businesses and industries to the region.
What it comes down to, Johnson says, is being good at relationships and connecting people. “I love being social and building relationships, and I like challenges and problem solving. I’m always learning because things are ever-changing.”
“Every day is different. But the fun part of this job is impacting the lives of people we may never meet. We want to be able to create opportunities that help the community grow, but also we feel very strongly about helping individuals better themselves.”
A quick look around the office shows this community and her family are most important to Brittaney. Family pictures with her husband, Matt, and their two daughters: Amelia (7), who is in the first grade, and Ellie (4), are always in her sightlines. Active girls who are into dance, gymnastics, and basketball, some of their artwork is displayed on her desktop.
Brittaney relies on coffee and Advocare “Spark” energy drink to get through her busy days. “I bring in coffee in the morning. But this is my afternoon energy.”
When she’s not at a meeting, her laptop rests on a docking station with a monitor so she can work on the fly. Even her laptop case is covered with photos.
She loves her balance ball chair, which helps with core strength because it makes you sit straight. “I can tell. If I ever use a normal office chair a couple days, my back will hurt. It’s hard to go back.”
The staff Christmas card shot by Captured Moments. “We had different poses and each of us liked a different one. This was the best overall. It turned out really well.”
Above her desk is a cabinet along the wall that’s filled with accolades and mementos — a “20 under 40” plaque in Indiana, a Kiwanis Presidential Award, a photo from Colorado from a trip to visit Denver Public Schools career pathways, a laser-etched bolt from Owensboro Health Hospital, and a Zyn promo from Swedish Match.