Rome Floyd Chamber

Rome and Floyd county job hunters are busy scouring the globe for companies that may be interested in relocating or starting up a new industry in Rome.

Rome Floyd Chamber President Al Hodge used the monthly meeting of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority to update the group of recruitment efforts.

Ken Wright, Chamber director of Business and Industry Services, said he believes several companies he made contact with at the annual aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul convention, would come to Rome to take a first-hand look at opportunities at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.

Wright said the presence of the Georgia Northwestern Technical College aviation program at the airport, would be beneficial to such companies future workforce needs. “The companies that I talked to were mostly smaller aviation suppliers, with 25-30 jobs,” Wright said. “Some did interior, some did gauges, and some did hoses. They weren’t building huge airliners, but they were doing parts and other aviation related products.”

Hodge said when he touts the GNTC Federal Aviation Administration certified aviation and avionics program to prospects it generally gets their attention. “So far not enough attention to secure a deal, but it definitely is a plus for us,” Hodge said.

Jon Byrd, director of the aviation maintenance and avionics program, said airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul businesses at the airport would be ideal for graduates of his program. His eighth class is graduating this spring. Each class has averaged about 21 students.

Byrd said his students come from all over North Georgia, from Dawsonville to Dalton. He’s even had a father and son pair came from Huntsville to take advantage of the program.

Byrd said Boeing recently completed a study which projected a shortage of as many as 600,000 aircraft mechanics by the year 2030. The Department of Labor reports there are more over the age of 60 who are still working than those who are younger than 30, Byrd said.

Floyd County Commission Chairman Rhonda Wallace told the group the county is considering building a spec building/hangar that could house a small company and double as a hangar for larger corporate type jets. “If we had a place where they could keep their plane overnight we would have more people landing there,” Wallace said. “It would be huge for us to have something like that out there.”

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said work on the 1,000-foot extension of the main runway at the airport is slated for 2018 and would open the airport to be able to handle just about any aircraft.

Hodge also told authority members the Chamber is in the process of surveying manufacturers about their employment needs right now and over the next five years.

“When this phase is finished with the manufacturers we’ll be doing the same thing with the health occupations and then with everyone else, small business and the government sector,” Hodge said.