As President/CEO, Susan is responsible for oversight of all Chamber activities, as well as developing and managing a comprehensive economic development program for the Gainesville, Florida MSA with specific focus on marketing, new business attraction, business retention and expansion and capital formation for early stage companies.
A seasoned executive and economic developer, Davenport has more than 15 years of experience recruiting companies in industries such as IT/Software, Biotechnology and others, to regions rich in the resources they need to thrive. Since joining the Gainesville Area Chamber as its Vice President of Economic Development in 2013, Davenport has been instrumental in attracting nearly 750 jobs and more than $400 million in capital investment to the region. Now as President/CEO, Davenport oversees the Chamber staff and serves as an officer on the organization’s Board of Directors.
In 2014, Davenport led an effort to develop a five-year economic development strategy, Transforming Greater Gainesville, and successfully led the Council for Economic Outreach in raising over $6 million in regional investment to launch and implement the strategy. The five-year plan is designed to transform the region into a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity through four key strategies. Among Davenport’s many other achievements since joining the Gainesville Area Chamber are facilitating and executing more advocacy and communications efforts to bolster and demonstrate business community support for Envision Alachua and numerous other regional developments as well as the recent announcement of a pilot program distinguishing Gainesville as the first Florida city to partner with Uber to meet senior transportation needs.
Prior to coming to the Gainesville Area Chamber, Davenport was the Senior Vice President of Global Technology Strategies for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. While there, she served as a key team member for the Opportunity Austin strategy, which created over 174,000 new jobs and enhanced regional payrolls by $8.7 billion over an eight-year period from 2004-2012. During her tenure in Austin she developed and executed Austin’s regional business retention and expansion program, Portfolio Austin, where over 4,800 regional retention visits were undertaken with 520 regional expansions tracked. She also developed and managed the Central Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, which resulted in assisting 34 companies in accessing $60 million in funding with an additional $30 million for local research and university projects. Susan also developed the Greater Austin Technology Partnership and Austin TechLive, which engaged over 100 regional technology executives in various economic development activities and supported entrepreneurism through a downtown co-working technology hub partner.
Davenport attended the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs. She also graduated from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is associated with the International Economic Development Council and the Association of the Chamber of Commerce Executives. Before developing an interest in economics, Davenport earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and practiced as a registered nurse for five years. Davenport was born in Texas and grew up in Tupelo, Miss.