Leaders from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Power offered Rome and Floyd County elected officials and community leaders their own perspective on Rome’s economic development picture during a briefing with the new president of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority, Missy Kendrick.
New Rome Floyd Chamber President Jeanne Krueger was also formally introduced to the crowd Thursday night.
Cassandra Wheeler, regional director for Georgia Power, brought the group together to hear Anne Kaiser, vice president for community and economic development at Georgia Power, and Scott McMurray, deputy commissioner for global commerce with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Rome Mayor Bill Collins said that he was surprised to hear McMurray talk about changes in the automotive industry and growing interest in electric vehicles.
“There is a lot of disruption going on in the automotive industry. We’re seeing a lot of OEM’s and suppliers beginning to make big investments in new innovations for the electrification of automobiles now,” McMurray said. “There’s no more gasoline engine, no more transmission, no more drive shaft.”
Local manufacturers in the automotive industry are in a good position related to that trend because they are not involved with engine or transmission parts, Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said.
According to the mayor, Kaiser said Rome needed more tools in the tool box, specifically land and potentially a spec building.
“We need more land and product inventory,” County Commission Chairman Scotty Hancock said. “We have some good sites but are lacking large tracts for our inventory. The game has changed. You only have an hour with site selection consultants and have to have everything available with the time you have.”
City Commissioner Craig McDaniel also said the “most critical component of bringing new jobs to a community is workforce.”
With four colleges in Rome, City Manager Sammy Rich said he believes the community is in a unique position to capitalize on workforce development for the future.
McMurray also spoke about quality of life issues and cities across the country getting into “placemaking.”
If a community is able to offer the right type of environment and amenities for the millennial generation, then that will attract them which will in turn attract companies seeking to employ that generation of folks.
“That’s good news for our community as we have it (quality of life) in spades,” Rich said.
“As we already are aware, some downfalls for us are access to the interstate and a deficit of prime industrial sites,” said City Commissioner Evie McNiece. “It was emphasized that our strengths certainly can outweigh our weaknesses if we market ourselves properly.”
Both Kaiser and McMurray stressed the importance of a unified effort when it comes to recruiting new industry.
“This is one of our strong points which has been noticed all over the state,” County Commissioner Rhonda Wallace said.
“I think the statewide developers are very aware that we are open for business,” McDaniel said.