The 15-county Northwest Georgia region is one of the first dozen areas in the country tapped to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.

Lloyd Frasier, executive director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, said the initial focus would be on the local floor covering industry, “but it obviously expands beyond that.”

The program is designed to promote job creation, accelerate manufacturing growth and to make the region more globally competitive.

Frasier said it gives the region priority for grants from a variety of sources, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration and the Department of Agriculture.

“By having this designation there are no immediate dollars, but it’s an indication that the availability of dollars will be enhanced — money that we could tap that we would not normally be able to tap without this designation,” he said.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College was instrumental in getting the designation. GNTC President Pete McDonald said the region has the highest percentage of manufacturing employees in the state.

Heather Seckman, economic development director at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said an emphasis on encouraging more manufacturing operations is part of the Rome-Floyd 20/20 program.

The Obama administration launched the IMCP in December 2013. Twelve out of 70 applicants were selected for the program, including communities in southwest Alabama and the Tennessee Valley.

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