Meet Greenwood’s Director of Economic Development Shayla Pulliam
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Erin Feldmeyer
Shayla Pulliam, Director of Economic Development for the City of Greenwood since May 2018, took a long and winding path to get to this career. Growing up with dreams of becoming a police officer, Pulliam longed to protect and serve the people around her. Once she discovered that she had an aversion to running and an automatic freeze reaction to danger, she decided to switch gears and pursue criminal law. One day she realized that she was not reaching back far enough to fix the issue of economic hardship so she focused on employment law.
“I found a lot of joy and purpose in [that area], but I still wasn’t fulfilling my mission of serving people to the extent that I believed I could,” says Pulliam, who earned Political Science and Sociology degrees from Purdue and a law degree from IU.
Pulliam wanted to do something different by improving the quality of life for people in her community and beyond by increasing the opportunity for legitimate economic growth and sustainability. Tired of seeing drug crimes and robberies, which stem largely from environmental influences and lack of means, she wanted to see people have the chance to live an honest life.
“In sociology, there is a theory known as the Broken Windows theory, which essentially means that due to serious crime within a community social bonds are broken and incivility takes over,” Pulliam says. “People are afraid to leave their homes, which leaves communities unmonitored and criminals undeterred. It’s a cyclical effect as crime breeds reclusion and reclusion breeds crime.”
Pulliam’s end goal, even when she was considering a career in law enforcement, was always to restore social order within communities and eliminate the excuse of “there was no other way.”
The first person to take on this role for the City of Greenwood, Pulliam provides a high-quality representation of the city to current and future businesses, collaborates and cooperates with local, state and federal economic development representatives, markets the city and its programs and leads public education and outreach campaigns.
“It’s a dream job that combines my passions and skill sets as I help bring new business to the Greenwood, but I also work in business retention and expansion,” Pulliam says. “This is a key element in my role because we want companies who have decided to call Greenwood home to feel cared for and valued even after all the paperwork is signed and construction is complete.”
Greenwood is a big supporter of small business and entrepreneurship. As such, Pulliam has the opportunity to work with the city and the Greenwood Chamber to help cultivate the small business community and support their growth and longevity.
“A personal passion turned initiative has been working on workforce and professional development,” Pulliam says. “My goal is to increase the quality of life for Greenwood residents by providing them opportunities for economic mobility.”
By focusing on workforce professional development, Pulliam notes that they can train and develop the eligible workforce to help maximize their talents, which, in turn, benefits the companies that employ Greenwood residents.
“By bringing business to the City of Greenwood, I’m helping to bring resources, which cuts down on illegitimate means of making money and, in theory, reduces crime, which helps restore social order and provides people with the opportunity to live a better life,” she says.
According to Pulliam, these redevelopment projects will increase the quality for Greenwood residents.
“We want residents and guests to feel excited when they come into the city and eager to return when they leave,” Pulliam says. “Having the Amphitheater with free summer concerts, Freedom Springs Aquatics Park and the beautiful trails will leave people wanting more, and Greenwood will be delivering more and more in the months and years to come. The walkability factor that Greenwood has carefully crafted will be a very special addition to the city.”
Pulliam notes that redevelopment shows that Greenwood is willing to invest in its own future.
“We want to ensure that Greenwood is a thriving City that people are excited to visit and call home,” she says. “We really do believe in pride and progress, and to show that we take pride, we are investing today for tomorrow.”