Jessica NickersonShawnee Forward

Walter Baker is the Economic Development Lead for Shawnee Forward, INC. Mr. Baker came to Shawnee in October 2021 from Jefferson City, Missouri where he was part of the State of Missouri‚Äôs Department of Economic Development (MO DED). There, he worked as a Compliance Specialist with the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) team. During his tenure in Missouri, projects ranged from multifamily housing construction to sewer and wastewater repairs to planning and other types of eligible projects. He performed a variety of tasks including grading project applications, regularly monitoring project compliance across the suite of federal grant requirements, answering questions from administrators and communities, and even compliance checks on-site. 

Prior to working for MO DED, he was the associate economic developer in Gun Barrel City, a small, retail-oriented community on Cedar Creek Lake between Dallas and Tyler, TX. While there, he was involved in all aspects of local development including assessing small EDC grant and loan applications, conversations with existing businesses, and meeting with prospective businesses and start-ups. 

For his education, he earned his Masters degree in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi where he also completed his IEDC Basic Course. His Bachelors came from the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in Public Administration with minors in History and Economics. While working towards his degrees, he also interned at the City of Castle Hills working primarily with Planning and Zoning, the Office of Representative Henry Cuellar as a constituent caseworker, completed an assistantship researching topics for the NASA Stennis Space Center and the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, and a full-time internship filling in for the project manager at the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority.