New Rome Floyd County Economic Development Authority President Missy Kendrick believes that Rome is still the capital of Northwest Georgia.
“Who wouldn’t want to work here,” Kendrick said as she settled into her temporary office at the Rome Floyd Chamber on day one in her new position.
Kendrick comes to Rome after leading the Development Authority of Polk County for the past three years. Prior to that she was executive director of the Barnesville-Lamar Industrial Development Authority for 11 years and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority for almost four years.
A career in economic development comes as a natural to Kendrick, who calls herself a “serial entrepreneur.” She has owned a number of businesses through the years. She ended up starting a business association and that led to work at the chamber, then a development authority.
The most exciting aspect of her job is creating jobs and changing lives. “Without question,” Kendrick said.
The biggest project she has worked on to date has been a $172 million renewable energy development in Barnesville. It created about 25 jobs.
“I think it’s important for a community to focus equally on small and the large (industries). In my opinion it’s just as good, if not even better to have ten companies employing ten people (each) as it is to have one company employing 100, because you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket,” Kendrick said.
“Diversity is very important when it comes to a local economy because you don’t want to have something that when it goes out of business, you don’t want it to really hurt.”
Rome’s new chief job hunter said state officials are encouraged by the number of companies that are looking to locate in Georgia. The state has been named the number one state in which to do business for five years in a row, and credits that to a lot of factors from low utility costs, workforce availability and the overall climate.
“Atlanta is the place to be right now and, of course, with the automotive industry, the Southeast is the place to be right now, so I think we’re able to capitalize on that,” Kendrick said. “The most frustrating thing for me has been competing with a neighboring state because they are able to do some things that we are not able to do,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick believes the workforce issue may be the primary factor many companies consider when they look to relocate or open new facilities.
“Not just quality, but quantity. We have a low unemployment rate, there’s not a lot of folks out there.”
Historically speaking, Kendrick believes people have followed the jobs. Consider the growth of Garden Lakes in the wake of the Georgia Kraft and Georgia Power plants that opened in Coosa in the 1950s. She sees that changing with a younger generation that often chooses where they want to live before seeking a job. That’s where quality of life issues come into play more than ever before.
“That’s where I think Rome and Floyd County have an advantage, because this is such a great community to live in so I think we are going to be able to capitalize on that,”Kendrick said. “If we can provide the workforce, we’re going to get projects.”