“My favorite thing about my job is seeing changes that will be here long after me,” Cates said. “Leaving a lasting mark in the community and hearing residents’ feedback is the best thing.”
Cates’ job as director of the EDC consists of several duties on behalf of the city. She conducts marketing campaigns, financial agreements and negotiations to achieve the EDC’s ultimate goal: creating wealth for the residents of the city.
“As an economic developer, my role is to help attract more businesses to the community and provide incentives to bring a better quality of life to Oak Ridge North,” she said. “I negotiate to get the best deal for the community.”
Vicky Rudy, city manager of Oak Ridge North, was involved in hiring Cates to be a part of the economic development board in 2011 and said since being hired, Cates has changed the face of economic development for Oak Ridge North.
“Now we have business recruiting and retention programs for the city,” Rudy said. “Susan has far exceeded in her experience here and it’s a wonderful moment to have hired someone with vision and passion for their job.”
While Cates has worked for the city since 2011, she became director of the EDC in October. She started with the city as an economic development marketing assistant in August 2011 after moving to Spring from Forney, Texas, when her husband accepted a job at Oak Ridge North Christian Academy, which happens to be next door to where Cates works at Oak Ridge North City Hall.
After a few months in her part-time role, Cates said she was promoted to a full-time position as economic development coordinator. In addition, she graduated from Leadership Montgomery County in 2013. A few months later she became director of the EDC.
Cates’ three children also attend Oak Ridge North Christian Academy, which made taking the job for the city much easier, she said.
“It’s been so wonderful for me to still be involved in my kids’ lives, and also still accelerate my career,” she said. “I do love my job. I can’t imagine doing anything else. There’s not many careers where you get to see changes happening.”
Cates said when she is not working, she spends her free time with her husband and children. Her family attends Life Spring Church, and spend time enjoying the outdoors.
As for being director of the EDC, Cates said her job would not be possible without the help of those around her.
“Working with the City Council and the EDC board, they really couldn’t have been a better team,” she said. “It’s a delight to be a part of that team.”