There’s a lot of money involved and a lot at stake.
The proposal by a city and county joint services study committee is to create a brand new agency. At this point at least one entity, the Rome Floyd County Development Authority, has said they’d like the job.
The county has approved the plan to change the model used to attract industries. The Rome Floyd Chamber Executive Committee has also given the idea the go ahead. To be clear, the chamber survives and will continue with the scope of its work, minus industrial recruitment. The current proposal has the Greater Rome Existing Industry Association staying with the chamber. More recent discussions have suggested GREIA merge into the new agency as well. The chair of GREIA is a constitutional member of the Rome Floyd County Development Authority
Will some of these agencies, which appear to be taking on similar roles, be combined? At this point it’s up in the air.
But what’s the plan? At this point it seems to be a concept.
To one degree or another economic development has been flat in Floyd County for 10 years or so. While there have been some wins — Lowe’s for instance — our area appears to have lost more jobs than it has gained. Existing industries are expanding through tax abatements, such as International Paper.
While noting some industries have closed their doors, Transdev for instance, and others such as Georgia Power are in the process of some pretty deep cuts — it’s understandable our leaders in the city and county government are looking for a change.
But this debate has gotten political — and worse — it’s gotten personal. We need our leaders to be able to look past differences and disagreements. We need our leaders to lead for the good of the community.
So what should we do? Let’s take the “me” and “mine” out of it and consider “all of us.”
Looking at the problem from the outside there is disagreement but there’s also a lot of agreement. There needs to be one point of contact for the city and county government who actively recruits industry. County Commissioner Scotty Hancock said “all we want to do is hire a professional with accountability to a board” and that’s a reasonable request.
There has been resistance, according to Hancock, from the chamber to show our local governments hard numbers to prove they’re delivering what they’re getting paid for. On the other side of the coin, chamber representatives have said time and time again — to use a fishing metaphor — they’re getting a lot of nibbles from industries but no bites.
It’s important the city and county have a unified vision. We don’t need something that divides our local governmental bodies. We’re only recently recovering from a house divided and cooperation — especially on that level — is the key to success.
An interesting aside: some of the elected officials who generally lean toward the more liberal persuasion, are acting very fiscally conservative on this issue. And on the same note, those who are generally fiscally conservative have essentially signed off on a deal — not knowing what that deal is yet, or more importantly what the cost of that deal is.
When it comes down to it, we’ve got a great community.
We have considerable access to healthcare. We have good access to education — both public and private. Our infrastructure could use some work. We could use more mid-level housing.
We also have many of those intangibles that make a community attractive. Our downtown area is thriving, we have a very active tennis community and it’s looking like plans to increase the availability for outdoor activities (re: trails) are on the front burner.
The idea of changing the current model seems to be a good one. But as with any idea that is worth not rushing, it’s worth doing it right, because ultimately the tax payers — that’s all of us — are going to bear the burden of the decision.