Rome & Floyd County

The Rome City and Floyd County commissions will hold a rare joint session this morning, to discuss a proposed change to how the governments lure new jobs and industries.

County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said Monday it's a chance to answer questions some city commissioners have raised about the new model. A study committee of city, county and Rome Floyd Chamber representatives recommended a joint authority headed by a professional recruiter.

"This is to clarify the plan, so we'll all be on the same page," Wallace said. "It's more for us to just meet, one-on-one; to see each other and talk about unity."

The public meeting is set for 8 a.m. today in the Rome Floyd Fire Administration Building, 409 E. 12th St.

County commissioners unanimously approved the plan at their Nov. 13 meeting, following a meeting earlier that day with city and chamber officials. However, city commissioners asked for more information before voting.

Rome Commissioner Wendy Davis submitted 50 questions, ranging from the powers of the new authority and funding to the involvement of the chamber, schools and existing industries.

She — and later, resident Thom Holt — also questioned similarities to a previous model in the 1990s that produced few results and raised questions of conflicts of interest.

Rome Commissioner Bill Irmscher submitted seven questions in writing, mainly about the organization and mission statement. City Manager Sammy Rich answered many at the board's Nov. 26 meeting but a majority of the commission sought further details.

However, most of them indicated support for a new direction.

"I am very much in favor of taking a new stance in the batter's box," Irmscher wrote. "We need to be positive and make industry want Rome as their home."

Wallace said Monday there have been informal talks about a professional recruiter for more than a year, to provide more accountability. She noted that Rome Commissioner Craig McDaniel, who served on the study committee, has more than 30 years experience in economic development.

"For somebody with that level of experience to recommend this, I feel we should listen," Wallace said. "We haven't really gotten any (industry) close to the table for a while and we owe it to the taxpayers to try something different."