Meet Dennille Decker
Dennille Decker fondly remembers watching her daughters, Lyla, 9, and Eva, 5, pretend they’re hosting a chamber of commerce event in their home. The youngsters would dress the part, pretend to meet the various guests and act as gracious hosts.
What would you expect? Their mother had been the local chamber of commerce director for their entire lives, but that recently changed.
Decker has learned there are quite a few differences when it comes to building up an organization’s membership, compared to building a structure. Bricks and mortar are governed by a different set of rules.
While she may not be the person laying the bricks, she still hopes to lay a solid foundation for the Blanche Hotel project as the marketing director for developer IDP Properties.
Decker, 37, has been with IDP for about two months. The Lake City native formerly served as the Lake City - Columbia County Chamber of Commerce executive director. Decker held the top spot at the chamber of commerce office for about nine years.
The Blanche Hotel redevelopment project is a project designed to renovate the historic landmark building.
The building, originally constructed around the turn of the century, is being renovated by IDP. The property has approximately 75,000 square feet of space. When completed the Blanche will have office, retail, event and rental space, as well as more than 20 residential apartments.
Decker’s duties at IDP are twofold. She is tasked with the company’s marketing responsibilities for public relations, and for the Blanche Hotel project, she is also in charge of the marketing as well as the operations where she is responsible for getting tenants. Once the space is leased, she’ll work with the tenants.
“It’s right about 75,000 square feet. My main objective is to keep that space occupied and rented out at all times,” she said.
Decker initially had the opportunity to work with IDP in 2014 and later she saw the opportunity to meet several people within the company and she liked what the company was doing.
“They made old things new again and gave them purpose and really helped redevelop communities that they went into ,” Decker said. “I feel like a lot of stuff that I did for the chamber of commerce was community based and I don’t feel like this is really any different. I had a great experience at the chamber — I got to do a lot of things, but I just felt like this was my opportunity to make an even bigger mark on Lake City and Columbia County by working with what I view as the biggest economic development undertaking we have going right now.”
A single mother, Decker is getting her first taste of working really close to the construction industry, after coming from a completely different profession.
“That’s really been something different to get used to,” she said. “I struggle with knowing what to wear to work. I’m accustomed to being in business attire everyday, so I don’t even have that many casual clothes. I don’t have the proper shoes, which I get reminded of a lot. I don’t like wearing the hard hat because it messes up my hair, but for the most part, it’s kind of like working with every other industry. That was what was great about the chamber. There was 500 members, all different types of people. This has definitely been a learning curve though.
Decker said she sees her new job as the next challenge of her career that she plans to master.
She said everyday she walks into the office, she’s reminded she left a field where she felt she was an expert and has gone to a job where she’s been trying to get up to speed.
“I’m learning a lot every day and it’s definitely a challenge,” she said with a light chuckle. “And it’s just not a challenge like mentally to learn new things, but it’s a challenge for me because I don’t want it to get lost on anyone that I know what the expectations are for this project — not only from my employer, but from the community and I go to bed thinking about it, wake up thinking about it and I will work as hard as I can to make sure that my vision for this property, which is for it to be a huge success and asset in our community, comes to fruition.”
Decker said she believes it’s important to continue to set goals and rise to challenges in your career.
“You just find yourself getting stagnant and you don’t want to get bored or feel like you don’t have any challenges because you want that motivation - that fire- to come forward,” she said. “I personally want to be able to do bigger and better things always.”
Decker said the new job makes her better because it has humbled her with unfamiliarity.
“There is so much I don’t know. You feel that after you’ve done something for a while,’this is my wheelhouse,’” she said. “But this is a totally new ballgame for me. It’s helped humble me and helped me learn more about myself and these new areas I didn’t know I would find interesting. Who knows what the next phase is going to be. I never thought I would be in the development business, but I’m absolutely loving it.”
Decker is also filled with anticipation for when the Blanche project is finally completed.
“I just can’t wait for our community to come in here and see what our vision is and what we thought it could be this whole time,” she said. “To see people really get to look around and bring back to life this historic building - it’s going to be such a community hub. I think people are going to love to come here. It’s a beautiful, old building and the things we’re going to do to bring it back to life is going to make it more spectacular.”
Big thanks to Currents Magazine and Tony Britt for this great article. Read below!