Opelika Main Street named its new director last week, former editor of The Corner News Carla Nelson.
Nelson replaces longtime director Pam Powers-Smith, who became the Opelika Chamber of Commerce president earlier this month. Filling the void left by Powers-Smith will be a challenge, Nelson said, but one she is looking forward to.
“Right now, I just hope to keep up the integrity of what Pam has done before me. She’s created a lot of really interesting events that people love, so I definitely want to keep those and make them as good as they were before,” Nelson said. “I’m really focused on the Main Street businesses, and helping them thrive. I want them to know that I’m here for them and anything that they need, I want them to feel like they can come to me and in any way I can help out, I’m willing to.”
Originally from Dothan, Nelson attended Auburn University and graduated with a journalism degree in 2004. She began working in 2005 for The Corner News, an Auburn-based publication which focuses on entertainment, sports and businesses in the Opelika-Auburn area.
After 11 years with The Corner News, Nelson last left November to pursue a new career. Having had the opportunity to cover and work in Opelika in the past, the Auburn resident said she focused on finding something in or near the city, and was pleasantly surprised when she found out that the director position was available.
“When I began my job search, honestly one of the first places I thought of where I would enjoy working was Opelika. I really feel like Opelika has so much potential and it’s growing so quickly … and when a friend of mine told me that Pam was leaving her position, and I thought, ‘wow, that’s perfect!’,” Nelson said.
Nelson said she plans to continue the same programs and events Powers-Smith started, and expand beyond that, with a firm belief that her journalistic background and time spent in Auburn will help her succeed in being the organization’s new director.
“At The Corner, I did a lot of event previews, so I knew all about the events that were already happening in Opelika. I knew a good bit about Opelika before coming to this job, so I feel like writing those stories and finding out each year about the events and that kind of stuff helped me prepare for this,” Nelson said. “I feel like at Auburn, I feel like a lot of the students and younger generation, they’re becoming more interested in Opelika because there is just so many cool things going on here. I want to keep reminding them of what is going on in Opelika and cater to them a bit more with an event in the future.”
Powers-Smith said she is excited for Nelson to become the OMS director, and believes her newness will be good for the organization moving forward.
“I think anytime someone new is hired, it’s a good thing, because they bring new ideas and a new energy to a job. So, I really hope that she does exactly,” Powers-Smith said.