Technical Assistance


Tara Bradshaw

Financing Solutions for Rural Downtown Development
Wednesday November 15 1:45 - 3:00 PM

Executive Director
Dublin Downtown Development Authority

Tara Bradshaw is downtown Dublin’s yes-girl, rock star, chief do-er, and biggest fan. Her can-do attitude and adventurous spirit have fostered many ideas – and turned them into reality.

During her tenure with Dublin DDA, Tara served as Main Street Dublin Director from 2012 to 2017. She recruited new retail businesses into downtown, revitalized the weekly downtown farmers market, planned and implemented several large civic events, and oversaw the renovations and day-to-day operations of four public facilities.

Tara was appointed Executive Director of Dublin DDA in February 2017 and now oversees its downtown investment projects. She is constantly working to engage and attract entrepreneurs, developers, artists, and visitors into downtown Dublin. Her work entails overseeing DDA’s historic rehabilitation and financial incentives, building partnerships with developers and community organizations, overseeing public facilities, promoting historic preservation, and overseeing all administrative activities for DDA’s board of directors.

A graduate of Valdosta State University with BBAs in Marketing and Management, Tara brings with her over ten years of experience in community development and a passion for making Downtown Dublin, Georgia a premier destination for business and culture.

Tara is a state-certified Downtown Development Professional, a graduate of Georgia Academy for Economic Development, and serves on the Georgia Downtown Association Board of Directors. She and her husband Matthew, Civil Engineer for the City of Dublin, are devoted to creating a place their two young children, Maggie Claire and Lane, will be proud to call home.

Lee Earhart

Introduction to Rural Development Finance
Wednesday November 15 8:30 - 9:00 AM

Financing Solutions for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure
Wednesday November 15 3:15 - 4:30 PM

Eastern Region Manager, Electric Distribution

Lee Earhart is a vice president and eastern region manager in CoBank’s Electric Distribution banking division. In that role, Lee is responsible for overseeing member relationships with electric distribution cooperatives in 19 eastern states and manages a portfolio with loans outstanding totaling over $3.8 billion.

Mr. Earhart joined Louisville Bank for Cooperatives, one of CoBank’s predecessor banks, in 1980, and has been located in CoBank’s Atlanta banking center since 1992. Throughout his 36 years with the bank, he has also worked in the areas of treasury, corporate finance and credit.

Mr. Earhart holds bachelor and master degrees from the University of Arkansas.

Randy Griffin

Financing Solutions for Rural-Based Business
Wednesday November 15 10:45 - 12:00 PM

CSRA Business Lending

Randy Griffin is President of CSRA Business Lending in Augusta, Georgia. He has been involved in the economic and community development and more particularly SBA lending for 30 years. CSRA Business Lending operates as a Certified Development Company of the U.S. Small Business Administration making SBA-504 loans in conjunction with banks throughout Georgia and also operates a $7.0 million dollar direct loan program called CSRA Direct targeted at making smaller loans up to $250,000 predominately in rural Georgia from excess revenues from CSRA’s 504 program excess revenues, grants from the Department of Commerce, and loans from the Department of Agriculture. Their CSRA Direct Fund now has $7.4 million in loans.

Randy was hired as the only company employee of CSRA in 1987 at the age of 24 when the company was facing decertification by SBA and closure. He increased loan production from two projects per year in 1987, to an average of forty-five (45) projects per year over the past five (5) years. CSRA has financed over $700 million in economic and community development projects throughout Georgia during his tenure. CSRA was selected as an Accredited Lender by the Small Business Administration in 1993, recognized as a model community loan program by the Federal Reserve in 1995, and was selected SBA’s Partner of the Year in Georgia in 2000. Randy was recognized by NADCO for his commitment to economic development and the CDC industry in 2010 and in 2015 was selected Georgia’s Financial Services Champion of the Year by SBA during small business week.

Randy is a 1986 graduate of the Georgia Southern University College of Business where he majored in finance. He was a punter on Georgia Southern’s first football team in 1982.

Randy currently serves on the Board of the National Association of Development Companies (the SBA-504 trade association), the Leadership Division of the Georgia Bankers Association, and the Masters Tournament Gallery Committee.

He has been married to his wife Laurie for 28 years and has three boys Tyler, Ryan, and Seth.

Perry Hiott

Financing Solutions for Rural Downtown Development
Wednesday November 15 1:45 - 3:00 PM

Managing Director
Georgia Cities Foundation

Perry Hiott serves as Director of Community Development & Financial Services for the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). Additionally, he serves as Managing Director for the Georgia Cities Foundation, a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) which assists cities in their downtown revitalization efforts. Since 2002, the Georgia Cities Foundation has provided more than $24 million in low-interest loans for downtown projects in 57 Georgia cities, helping to establish more than 260 downtown businesses, 1475 jobs, and 280 downtown housing units.

Mr. Hiott possesses more than 30 years of professional experience in local government and nonprofit organizations. Prior to his employment with GMA in 1997, he served as Director of Zoning for Fayette County, City Administrator for the City of McDonough, and City Manager for the City of Morrow. Mr. Hiott received a B.A. degree in Political Science from Clemson University, and he received a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia College & State University, where he has served as an adjunct instructor of public administration and has taught courses in local government administration.

Michael Kozlarek

Financing Solutions for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure
Wednesday November 15 3:15 - 4:30 PM

Kozlarek Law LLC

Michael Kozlarek is a public finance, econonmic development, and general government attorney. He focuses his practice on finance and economic development for state and local governments, as well as not-for-profit entities and corporations

In addition to his practice at, Michael serves as a member of Board of the South Carolina Economic Developers Association and the Chair of the Professional Development Committee, Michael previously taught Legal Drafting and Advanced Legal Writing for several years as an adjunct professor for the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Michael also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable William L. Howard Sr. at the South Carolina Court of Appeals, an adjunct professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, a commercial intern to the United States Foreign Commercial Service and a law clerk to the South Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee.

Blake Sharpton

Financing Solutions for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure
Wednesday November 15 3:15 - 4:30 PM

Butler Snow LLP

Blake Sharpton is a member of the Public Finance, Tax Incentives and Credit Markets Group at Butler Snow. He focuses his practice on public finance, governmental law, economic development incentives, school law, construction contracting, real estate law, commercial lending, mergers and acquisitions, corporate/LLC law, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Blake is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and was named as one of Georgia’s Top Rated Lawyers in 2013.

Blake is a member of the Macon bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia, the National Association of Bond Lawyers, and the American Bar Association.

Blake is a graduate of the University of Georgia where he earned his B.B.S in Finance and M.I.S. before earning his Juris Doctor at Mercer University School of Law

Jack Stanek

Financing Sources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Wednesday November 15 9:00 - 10:30 AM

Assistant State Director
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Jack is the Assistant to the State Director for USDA, Rural Development in Georgia and is currently serving as the Acting State Director. Prior to that, Jack was the Community Programs Director for four years where he was responsible for administration of the group loan and grant programs that include water and sewer funding and community facilities funding. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and has been with the USDA since 1983.

Josh Walton

Financing Solutions for Rural-Based Business
Wednesday November 15 10:45 - 12:00 PM

District Director
The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center

Mr. Walton is a former commercial and small business lender. He has over 12 years of experience working with small and mid-sized lending customers and Credit Underwriting. His area of expertise is cash flow management, financial analysis and loan packaging. Previous to banking he spent some time in the healthcare arena, in outside sales and management.

Some of Mr. Walton’s leadership accomplishments include; Graduate of Leadership Calhoun/Gordon County, GA program, Regional Economic and Leadership Development, GA Academy of Economic Development, Perry Chamber of Commerce Business Development Committee, and The University of Georgia Public Service and Outreach completion of the Vivian H. Fisher, Leadership Academy as well as its Excellence in Consulting and Consultant of the Year Award.

Dafina Williams

Lunch Session: Financing Solutions for Rural Food & Agricultural Systems
Wednesday November 15 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Vice President, Public Policy
Opportunity Finance Network

Dafina Williams is Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs). She joined Opportunity Finance Network in 2006 and leads the organization’s public policy efforts on federal appropriations and small business lending as well as manages the organization’s grassroots advocacy efforts. Dafina serves on the Executive Committee of the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, association of non-profit and for-profit organizations that promotes responsible small business lending practices and on the New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Board of Self-Help Ventures Fund. Ms. Williams is also the President of the Board of Directors for Barrio Planta Project, an international nonprofit providing access to free, quality education in Latin America. Dafina is magna cum laude graduate of Temple University, where she received a BBA in Economics.

CDFA National Sponsors

  • Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Frost Brown Todd, LLC
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McCarter & English, LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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