Meet Our Staff


Laura DiBella

Executive Director



Who better to lead the charge of the Nassau County Economic Development Board (NCEDB) than a driven-to-win distance runner and competitor, who recently set her best time at the 2016 Berlin Marathon with a time of 3:03:42, Laura DiBella.  She hit the ground running when she took the helm of the NCEDB in October, 2014.  Her zest and desire to win brings much energy and inspiration to the team.
 
A South Florida native, Laura is the daughter of two Sicilian immigrants and American entrepreneurs who taught her that anyone can live the American dream.  Laura’s career began with her father’s company, a machine shop, which earned the reputation as one of the most trusted high-precision Beryllium manufacturers in the United States having successfully completed numerous high-profile aerospace and defense projects, most notably the gyroscope housing for the Hubble Space Telescope. 
 
But as much as she loved her father and manufacturing, what she really loved was interacting with a lot of very diverse people, so shortly after graduating from the University of Florida, a young and ambitious Laura got her real estate license and started a marketing company, both of which brought her much success, representing many Fortune 500 companies and sharpening her ability to market and sell not only products to consumers but also real estate to end users, often the cornerstone of economic development.  Brokering
deals on behalf of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is what ultimately led her to Nassau County.


A designated rural county by the State of Florida, Nassau County is on the brink of major development due to its outstanding land and infrastructure assets, i.e. Crawford Diamond Industrial Park, an 1814+ acre dual Class I rail served (Norfolk Southern/CSX) mega-site entitled for 10.5 million square feet of heavy industrial space, as well as, the East Nassau Community Planning Area (ENCPA/Wildlight), a 24,000 acre sector plan entitled for 11 million square feet of mixed use space along with an estimated 20,000 rooftops - the majority of which has only recently been released and marketed to the business community. 

Laura's responsibilities include managing a budget of approximately $400,000 (and growing), overseeing the day to day operations, managing business retention efforts, fundraising and heavily marketing Nassau County as a place to do business to the outside world. 

Her successes since joining the NCEDB team include streamlining operations overall through outsourcing while increasing the budget through private fundraising by almost $100,000 to date.  In addition, she conducted a full overhaul of the by-laws, policies and entire organization which was required to operate in the Sunshine, a condition by the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners for funding.  Laura also oversaw the complete revamp of the website and marketing efforts, further positioning the county to aggressively compete in the heavy manufacturing arena.

Laura's most notable success to date was announced in December 2016 - LignoTech Florida - the largest manufacturing project in the history of the Nassau County Economic Development Board, capturing $135 million in capital investment along with 50-70 advanced manufacturing jobs at or above 150% of Nassau County's average wage before benefits.  Discussions are also ongoing with several large end users interested in the area that collectively exceed, conservatively, over a billion dollars in capital investment and hundreds of jobs.  

In a nod to her success and to compliment and enhance her efforts in economic development, in May 2017, Laura was appointed as Port Director for the Fernandina Ocean Highway and Port Authority, representing their interests on the Florida Ports Council and the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED).   

 
While she is as comfortable running 26.2 miles as she is on the floor of a machine shop or negotiating large real estate deals, Laura’s heart lies in education and giving back to the community.  It is this passion that garnered Laura and the NCEDB the 2015 Emerging Partner of the Year award from Florida State College of Jacksonville’s Nassau Campus. Creating alliances with the local school district, community college and nonprofits serving our future workforce pipeline, allow the NCEDB to bridge the gap between education and industry. 
 
When not working or running, Laura can be found enjoying the beach or cheering on her favorite Florida sports teams.
 
My Favorite Restaurants:  29 South, Nana Teresa’s Bakery, Fantastic Fudge, every Mexican restaurant in Nassau County, and, of course, Callahan BBQ.

My typical weekend in Nassau County:  Running along Fletcher Avenue as the sun rises over the Atlantic, relaxing in the sun with my toes in the sand and watching football either live or at one of my favorite restaurants.

Why I love living in Nassau County:  The historic charm and also the kindness of the people, they define home.

Community Involvement:  Serves on the boards of the Nassau Education Foundation, Fernandina Beach Main Street, Community First Credit Union Advisory Council, Communities in Schools, Florida State College at Jacksonville School of Business Advisory CommitteeMcArthur Family YMCA and volunteers as a student mentor for Take Stock in Children Nassau County.


Shelley Hirsch

Operations and Compliance Manager


 
Shelley comes from small town, USA.  Long bedded in her roots of family farming, she always aspired to be a person who helped those beside her.  Being the first of her maternal family to attend college, Shelley excelled in her studies, garnering her Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Certification in Teaching, and being licensed in the insurance and annuities industry.
 
Her early career in rural New York found success in leadership roles, where Shelley worked as a retail fashion manager, as well as later managing GTi Temporary Services, an employee recruitment and placement office, where she increased job placement for candidates at a pace of 200% over an approximate 10 month time frame.  This success gave Shelley fame in a regional publication, reaping a “Women in Business” spotlight, a Kingston Freeman publication. 
 
Settling in Nassau County, Florida in 2005, Shelley immediately immersed herself in the non-profit community.  She has previously served on the boards of The Friends of Hilliard Library, First United Methodist Church of Callahan, Take Stock in Children Nassau (TSIC), and the Eight Flags Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA).  Dedicated to various outreach efforts, assisting in the betterment of quality of life, Shelley has been involved with the Nassau Volunteer Center, Barnabas, Communities in Schools Nassau (CIS), Guardian Ad Litem and Joy to the Children.  Shelley culminated her volunteerism career by being a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) as a Community Resource Development Coordinator, building sustainable partnerships focused on eradication of poverty to Nassau County’s population.
 
Joining the staff of the Nassau County Economic Development Board in 2013 was a natural fit for Shelley, and a win for the organization.  A hobbyist in all things economics, Shelley’s knowledge, perseverance, understanding and patience balances the multi-faceted, complex nature that is economic development, that which is very, very important to our public capacity.  In addition to operational and compliance duties performed for the organization, Shelley is trained in Emergency Support Functions for Business Continuity (ESF-18), and serves as the NCEDB’s liaison to the county’s Emergency Management Center.  Should a natural disaster become imminent, Shelley will work with the businesses of our county, before, during and after the threat, ensuring your business stability and permanence. 
 
Today, Shelley remains very active within Nassau County’s community, serving with the Amelia Island Museum of History, the Greater Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Economic Vitality group, ABWA, the Northeast Regional Leadership Academy, The Sophisticates, TSIC, CIS, and, dancing with the Royal Amelia Dance Academy.
 
Favorite Pastimes:  gardening, baking, walking the coastline and, when the opportunity presents, visiting the snow-laden north searching out all of the fun wintertime activities.  Her most favorite wintertime fun:  making snow angels in fresh fallen snow. 
 
Best thing about Nassau County:  All of its history, from the eastern border to the western border.  There is an abundance of historical diversity, with significance to the early settlements of the founding our great country, the United States of America.

Sherri Mitchell

Workforce Development Liaison



Within minutes of meeting Sherri Mitchell, you’ll be captivated by her high-energy.

Her work ethic comes to her honestly as Sherri’s father was in the United States Navy for 30 years, and was stationed in San Diego for 18 years. Upon her father’s retirement, the family relocated to Jacksonville, Florida to be closer to family and it is here that her father became a business owner as a TV/Radio Technician. Like many parents, Sherri’s mother and father chose to lead by example and through their actions, she learned the value of hard work and a strong work ethic.  It was this way of life that led to Sherri’s indelible commitment to excellence, whether in her work or in relationships. She believes in going above and beyond what is expected of her.     

Family values were instilled in Sherri at a young age and still very relevant as she enjoys participating in children’s church, and believes in planting the seed at an early age when supporting kids. It is through her love of life, commitment to helping others and family that she works in support of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, supporting the annual Alzheimer’s Walk, which raises awareness and funds for vital care.  These initiatives are very near and dear to her heart, as she has the utmost respect for the caregivers, who are the unsung heroes.  It’s imperative to be a voice to those who no longer has the ability to speak for themselves.

Continuing in her parents’ footsteps, Sherri desires to share the importance of hard work and dedication as a mentor with Take Stock in Children - Nassau County. Her goal is to instill in the students hope for a better life, as well as, strengthen the workforce pipeline by sharing the possibilities of a promising future for these kids.

Most recently, Sherri played a key role in supporting Jacksonville, Florida’s manufacturing community and has made a perfect transition to her POSITION with the Nassau County Economic Development Board.  Building relationships with the high schools, implementing teacher recognition, and inviting teachers to participate in the monthly industry site meetings played a part in building manufacturing awareness among teachers.  Students were impacted through scholarships and contributions made to schools via the industry-related programs.  For Sherri, National Manufacturing Day was the culmination of her hard work and she is thankful for the manufacturers who participated in National Manufacturing Day by setting up tours, surveys and other events. The National Manufacturing Day events were the perfect scenario to bring teachers, students and those in the manufacturing sector together so students could see the wide array of opportunities available to them.

Statewide and National Programs that were heavily supported through workforce and manufacturing are:

DIDI -Dream It Do It! - To put an end to this misperception, The Manufacturing Institute launched the Dream It. Do It in 2005. Dream It. Do It. works to change the perception of the industry and inspire next-generation workers to pursue manufacturing careers. Members of the Dream It.  Do It. program gain access to national support and resources to aid their pro-manufacturing efforts and join a network of industry leaders that implement activities to meet local, regional and statewide workforce needs.

FLATE - The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE), a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in high-technology manufacturing, is the go-to organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education, best practices and resources supporting the high-performance, skilled workforce for Florida’s manufacturing sectors. 

Made In Florida – A product of FLATE, Made in Florida highlights opportunities and showcases products made in Florida.

Her many years of connections within the local governmental community as well as the strategic relationships which are already established are a great asset to Nassau County team. She is well equipped to drive our initiatives to a new level.


Connect With Us

Laura DiBella
Executive Director
Shelley Hirsch
Operations and Compliance Administrator
The NCEDB exists because of the generous support of the Nassau County Board of Commissioners, our local municipalities and economic development partners.
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