The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority formally agreed to a plan Monday morning to make it the lead agency for the recruitment of new industry to our area.

"We're going to be working with Rome and Floyd County to grow our community," said Chairman Jimmy Byars.

The authority put its stamp of approval on the plan that has evolved over the last several months.

They will start discussions almost immediately with Rome City Manager Sammy Rich and Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord to hire a staff for the authority, Byars said, including a new executive director whose sole responsibility will be industrial recruitment.

The search is likely to involve the assistance of a consultant, McCord said, but did not give any indication as to who that consultant may be.

The professional staff for the authority will likely include someone who would serve as a project director and an administrative aid. 

"We think we can be up and running in very short order," Rich said. "At the end of the day we think we will end up with a more streamlined approach."

The authority, partnering with city and county commissions, is taking on responsibilities that have been the focus for Chamber of Commerce President Al Hodge and Chamber Economic Development Director Heather Seckman for much of the last two decades.

The authority will kick in $150,000 as will the city and county government to create a $450,000 budget for the office of economic development.

The R-FCDA is a constitutionally created entity which has the power to offer tax abatements and other incentives to companies seeking to come to Rome, as well as existing companies seeking to expand.

Payment in lieu of taxes fees are collected by the authority as part of incentive packages. That has created a nest egg the authority has to help finance the operation of the new office.

“We've got a large war chest of money already sitting there," Byars said.

The authority is slated to receive more than $293,000 in PILOT fees this year. The PILOT schedule which is now on the books shows more than $200,000 in fees coming in through the year 2022. However, that does not include $95,000 a year from International Paper which is part of the latest upgrades at the giant linerboard mill west of Rome.

Byars asked Elyse Davis, the regional economic development and marketing manager with Georgia Power, to come to the authority's next scheduled meeting on Feb. 20 to update members of the authority on some of the processes involved in industrial recruitment and economic development.

Floyd County Commission Chairman Scotty Hancock along with Mayor Bill Collins and Greater Rome Existing Industries Association Chairman Mark White of The Fairbanks Company, said they would like to see the term of the GREIA representative on the panel extended for than just one year at a time to enhance the continuity of the authority membership. Those discussions are already underway, Byars said. However, both the county chairman and Rome mayor posts are also one year terms.

Byars said he welcomes the opportunity for the R-FCDA to become more engaged in the effort to bring jobs to Rome on the front end of the process, as opposed to strictly being a financing arm at the end of future deals.

"This is a different board than it was a year ago," Byars said.