Mark White, of the Fairbanks Co. in Rome, will serve a second year as chairman of the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association thanks to an amendment to the association’s bylaws approved on Wednesday.
During that same meeting, the GREIA membership confirmed by a unanimous vote that the Rome Floyd Chamber would continue to serve as its primary liaison between the local industries and Rome and Floyd County, the State of Georgia and the local development authorities, which would ultimately assist with land acquisition or financing for expansion projects.
GREIA was created in November 1986 as an association under the banner of the Chamber. It was conceived of to aid the growth, excellence and expansion of existing industries by addressing topics specifically related to the priorities of manufacturers.
Every manufacturing company that is a member of the Rome Floyd Chamber is a member of GREIA, from Bekaert and International Paper to Carlsen Precision Manufacturing and Gustav Wolf, which acquired the Brugg Wire Rope manufacturing operations in Rome.
As chairman of GREIA, White will continue to serve as one of four constitutional officers on the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority, which is now tasked with the primary responsibility for recruiting new industry to the community.
GREIA however, remains completely committed to continuing to work with the chamber.
The GREIA board reaffirmed that commitment last week.
Its bylaws state: “The association will work exclusively with the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce (dba Rome Floyd Chamber) for all economic development projects to include expansions, reinvestments and/or new operations within the community.”
The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority does come into the picture at the point when a company has its plans for expansion completed and is ready to discuss incentives and a financing package.
Past chamber board chairman John Quinlivan, CEO at Redmond Regional Medical Center, said that existing industries are the primary job creators in Rome and most other communities as well.
“It’s from within this group that the majority of our job growth comes,” Quinlivan said. “It is vitally important that we continue to support that and that has always been and remains a primary chamber responsibility.”
Quinlivan said that obviously the chamber would work with the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority on the recruitment of new industry.
“We sure want to see that be successful, but we recognize our primary responsibility is to our existing industries and to facilitate their expansion,” he said.
Over the last seven years, at least 19 expansions have occurred at companies that are part of GREIA.
Neaton Rome on Technology Parkway and F&P Georgia in the Floyd County Industrial Park have expanded several times each since they located in Rome nearly 20 years ago.
The chamber has worked closely with International Paper on two huge upgrades of the mill in Coosa, which while not necessarily creating a lot of new jobs, has managed to hang on to existing jobs.
“International Paper is proud to be part of GREIA and the Rome and Floyd County community. We are happy to work closely with other businesses and organizations in the community as we continue our efforts keep our Rome Containerboard Mill a safe, reliable place to work,” said IP spokeswoman Jenna Guzman.
Quinlivan said the chamber, through GREIA, stays in close contact with members and is well aware of whether or not companies are growing, hitting their goals or having capacity challenges.
“Things don’t just happen overnight, so we’re going to do the things we can to help our GREIA members be successful, and through that close relationship, we’re going to anticipate that they are reaching a point where they are looking to expand,” Quinlivan said. “We will then go in partnership with them to the city or the county or the state if we need to, to secure whatever support they need to expand,” Quinlivan said.
David Newby, division president at Profile Extrusions, explained that GREIA’s ties to the chamber are critical from several perspectives.
“When you are doing planning, a lot of it is confidential and you don’t want things to get out (publicly) until you make the final decision that you’re going to do it. But you need assistance, and part of the planning is knowing what’s available to you. We’ve always been able to go to the chamber to say ‘This is what we’re looking at doing.’ We know they have connections and they can get answers to our questions. But more importantly, we know that will be kept confidential,” Newby said. “It’s not a matter of public record at that time.”
Newby said he’s always looked at the chamber as a hub and knows that if they don’t have an answer right away, the chamber can get it quickly.
By the time a project gets to the development authority for a specific financing package, it’s got to be a done deal, according to Newby.
Quinlivan confirmed that the chamber board talked this past Thursday morning about being very clear with the respect to what its responsibilities are to economic development now.