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State leadership academy opens in Rome; officials coming from 14 counties

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Rome Floyd Chamber President Al Hodge (standing), who also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, welcomes 45 participants to the Georgia DCA Economic Development Academy in Rome on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, 2017. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

Community leaders from 14 counties across Northwest Georgia converged on Rome on Tuesday for the start of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Economic Development Academy.

Corrine Thornton, a regional administrator with DCA, said the academy is designed for anyone who might have an opportunity to get involved in economic development efforts.

The academy is a series of presentations spread across four dates between February and May. Each is being held in Rome this year.

Tuesday’s meeting was held at the Forum River Center.

“No matter what role you play you’re going to discover how the dots are connected,” said Al Hodge, president of the Rome Floyd Chamber and chairman of the board of directors of the Department of Community Affairs.

“Economic development is tied to workforce development,” Thornton told the group.

She said leaders of the Technical College System of Georgia along with regional college and public school system officials will play an important role in the academy.

Hodge said the participants will be exposed to the wide range of issues that economic developers face, prominent among them — change. Hodge pointed to the new administration in the U.S., upcoming elections in both France and Germany as well as the 2016 election in Great Britain, which saw the unexpected withdrawal of England from the European Union.

Hodge highlighted the Rome-Floyd 20/20 plan as Rome’s blueprint for economic development.

“At minimum we review that plan once a year,” he said.

The plan is formally updated every five years, Hodge explained.

Thornton told community leaders the program would rely heavily on utility partners across the state including Georgia Power, the Georgia Electric Membership Corp., the Electric Cities of Georgia and Atlanta Gas Light Resources.